I was away in Brigadoon for Write 4 a Day on Sunday, so it wasn’t until I got to my office Monday morning that I discovered Fox Spirit Books had won the Best Small Press award at the British Fantasy Society Con. It was a great moment for the skulk and for our fearless leader, the muse who punches you in the face, Adele Wearing. Since there was no one to celebrate with me here, I had a little happy cry and jumped up and down all by myself — and then furiously congratulated everyone online because this was a skulk victory and we were all very happy.
I may even have burbled about it to a colleague who congratulated me politely if somewhat nonplussed by my sudden animation. I don’t usually talk about my writing amongst my colleagues because of The Great Divide. With a foot in both sides of the divide (as is my wont) I always end up arguing against the divide as well, but that’s my fate. I was brought down to earth a bit on the question of awards just by chance at a meeting where we worked on the text for yet another new website initiative imposed from above.
I made a suggestion to combine the sentences about the literature faculty and the writing faculty because, while it is an administrative split in our department, it is not necessarily a useful distinction to our students, actual and potential. So the sentence then read that courses would be taught by ‘award-winning scholars, poets and novelists’ which seemed to be good.
‘But do we have any award winning scholars?’ my department chair asked with a laugh.
Surprised, I said, ‘Yes, of course.’
‘Well, me for one!’ I was unable to hide my disbelief and a bit taken aback. I am more than accustomed to my colleagues having no interest in what I do: I write genre fiction and study medieval literature, so it’s to be expected. Among my awards the Fullbright, however, is a rather mainstream sort of award, but I felt as if I had been caught being gauche yet again (let’s not digress into matters of academia and class, though I might well go on for a long time about that). We don’t mention awards, I guess, even in a climate where a huge percentage of the faculty are going to be for the chop this year.
So awards don’t matter, as I ought to have learned from Edina’s PR PR Award. That’s okay. But we who devote our lives to creative endeavours fight a daily battle to keep going on in the face of almost constant dismissal, rejection and perhaps worst of all, blank indifference. We all know that struggle, we’ve all lost hope on occasion, maybe many of them. A kind word, a friend’s pep talk, a good review that understands a work, and yes, an award, all help us pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again.
Awards don’t matter — except when they do.
[List of the BFS award winners here.]