Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Awards Season: or Getting Drunk on Fiction

Writing is like Wine

This post is a digression from my 'How to Write a [Good] Novel Series, so if you're looking for writing tips, please just check my earlier posts, or wait for a week and then I'll be back to normal.

The Big One

I would just like to say: this week has been a big week for me. I'm currently negotiating a job offer and, after much patient waiting, I am finally allowed to crow about The Big One.

There are three major awards in New Zealand for my kind of writing. These are:

- The Sir Julius Vogel Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing
- The Storylines Notable Book Awards
 and (the Big One) - the New Zealand Post Book Awards.

My first novel (indeed, my only novel, so far) has been shortlisted for all three, and last week, was awarded one.  A Necklace of Souls is now a Notable Book.

What does this mean, you ask? Surely, now you'll be rich, Ms RL Stedman? You'll be like JK Rowling, won't you - after all, she had two initials?

Ah, no. It doesn't work like that.

It means there's a sticker on my book.

Like a supermarket wine. You know how they have stickers on them, to say they've won gold or silver at a competition?  No doubt winning the competition meant a great deal to the winemaker who put their heart and soul into the wine's crafting. But to the purchaser, it means; this wine must be good because look - there's a sticker!

Which brings me to the Deep Part of the Blog: Why Do We Write?

I've had to think about this a lot recently. And if you're venturing on a writing journey, you should too.

As a writer, you should never assume that awards equal profit. Sure, they might help.  But is profit the reason for writing?

I write because I love telling stories. Other people write for posterity, to craft images that will outlast them. Some writers love playing with words, with metre and rhyme and seeing how prose looks on a page. Some have something burning to say. And others just want to make a living.

So before you get any further into your novel writing process, take some time and think, why do I want to do this?

Because once you're sure in your own mind about why you are writing, it helps deal with disappointments, like rejections or criticism or poor sales or reviews. And it helps you enjoy the process more.

Stickers on a book are nice, and so are good reviews and sales, but in the end it's what you think of your own work that matters.

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