Friday, 23 October 2009

The terribly sad story of not getting an Award...

You were delighted and grateful to be nominated for the Award and overjoyed to find yourself on the Best Personal (blog) category shortlist.

Then you start to ask yourself.
‘Why Best Personal category? Why not the Best Writing category?’
Because that’s how ridiculous and deluded you can be.

You are afraid to attend the Glittering Awards ceremony because you feel a fraud mixing with proper writers and also because you know you’ll be irrationally jealous of the (justly deserving) winners. Your friend prevails upon you.
‘If you’re going to submit yourself to scrutiny - you have to be prepared for rejection.’

And your youngest child indulgently pretends she'd like to attend with you; so you purchase Glittering Awards ceremony tickets.

You are virtual friends with some of the other shortlisted writers. Your virtual friends, the Nice Man and the Writer Who Will Win, are on the same shortlist as you. The Amusing Man and Prolific Short and Story Writer are on a different shortlist. Prior to the Glittering Awards ceremony you realise that other shortlisters are preparing readings for the evening. You’re not sure if it’s an axiom that shortlisters read and you’re the only one who isn’t aware of this protocol - but you’re afraid of ridicule and not brave enough to simply ask someone who will know.

You tentatively prepare several readings; a three-minuter, and five-minuter and a ten-minuter – just in case, like a little boy going to a important football match with his cleaned boots in a carrier bag.

Then you realise your behaviour is preposterous and you contact your virtual friend, the Nice Man, to see if he’s planning to read. He isn’t. And he isn’t sure how shortlisters know they are expected to read at the Glittering Awards or what the selection criteria are. You speculate that it might be writers on the Best Writing category shortlist who are asked to read. He suggests that your Best Personal (blog) category might be interpreted as a Best at ‘colouring-in without going over the lines’ category, and you both have a hearty virtual laugh over that.

On the day of the Glittering Awards you paint stuff on your nails (writer blood-red on your toes, nervous-neutral on your fingers); have a hairdo in a shop; put on a dress - with legging, because that's how edgy you writers can be.

You stash your the three readings in your big bag - just in case.

On the evening of the Glittering Awards you are sick with nerves. You down some Beechams Flu Plus Caplets because you feel a bit queer, and because you want to dull your anxiety.

The Amusing Man, the Prolific Short Story Writer and the Writer Who Will Win read their engaging and hilarious pieces.

At nine o’clock the Lady Who Has Worked So Hard to ensure all this happens takes her place on the stage to make the announcements. She says.
‘First I’ll read out the shortlist for each category.’
And your youngest child nods at you in excitement, her eyes saying.
‘This is your moment!’
You nod back, still more queasy with anxiety.
Then, the Lady Who Has Worked So Hard to ensure all this happens says.
‘Oh. I don't have a copy of the shortlisted nominations. I’ll go straight to announcing the winners and runners-up in each category.

And your moment has gone.

The Writer Who Will Win has won and the Amusing Man, the Prolific Short Story Writer and the Nice Man are all runners-up.

All your virtual friends get a mention and you fail.

On the walk back to the car park your youngest child gives you a cuddle because you look bereft. Your chest is full of tightly compressed tears but you can’t cry. Your youngest child doesn’t understand.
‘I don’t understand - why are you sadder about this than you are about sad things?’
And you can only reply with a rigid little shake of your head, because you don’t understand either.

During the drive home Michael Bubley, the affable Canadian popular singer, is treating Radio 2 listeners to an easy listening concert. This is galling but your hand is too sad to turn him off. Then Michael Bubley, the affable Canadian popular singer, starts to sing the song Home, and the tears start to roll down your face and there are even more of them than you thought and your youngest child is watching your face in the reflection of the rhythmic motorway lights and she doesn’t know what she can do to make it better.

And she can’t make it better can she? Because it’s all down to you. You have to stop thinking you’re a splendid scribe one moment and that you’re an insignificant incompetent the next moment. You need to grow a carapace and put more energy into what you actually write instead of worrying about what others think about you and what you write. Until you’ve done those things, you need to avoid Glittering Awards ceremonies; especially if you’ve been shortlisted.

This terribly sad sequence of events isn’t what happened to me; but it might have happened to someone like me if their personality were a charmless combination of misplaced confidence and hobbling insecurity.

Coincidentally, I didn’t win at the Manchester Blog Awards but these talented people did and I extend my super-congratulations to them. I also am very grateful to Kate Feld of Manchizzle who manifestly does work incredible hard to ensure that North West bloggers get such a fantastic event and such lovely acknowledgement for what they do.
There is a nice Guardian review of the Glittering Awards too.
Lost in Manchester
The Manchester Zedders
My Shitty Twenties
Cynical Ben
Words and Fixtures
Songs from Under the Floorboards
I thought I told you to wait in the car
Dave Hartley’s Weblog
Run Paint Run Run
The Manchester Hermit

This terribly sad sequence of events, written in the second person, didn’t happen to me but if I were ever called upon to cry to order - unlikely, I know – but if I’m offered a starring part in a weepy film say, or I find employment as a professional mourner, I know a tune that will set me off nicely.


The Plashing Vole said...

You certainly haven't failed - this is a top quality piece of writing! Will definitely say hello when you win one. Cynical Ben is Nice Man, yes? I was his best man, and I wouldn't go that far! (OK, he is nice - despite his best efforts to pretend otherwise.)

kim mcgowan said...

Thanks (again) Plash

Well it is just pretend...
but if it were true Ben certainly would be Nice Man. Actually, Nice Man Accomplished Writer and Award-winning Blogger (but that's a bit of a mouthful so Nice Man for short).


Katherine Woodfine said...

This is great. Am really enjoying your blog!

kim mcgowan said...

Thanks Katherine

And I've just had a quick look at your pieces in 'Mostly Truthful' and they are wonderful! Hurrah!

(Anthology at and well worth downloading)

Benjamin Judge said...

What an excellent post.

We all knew who was going to win but the nerves are still there aren't they?

I enjoyed the readings but would have preferred more shorter ones (Katherine and Emily's readings were a nice length - others were a bit long for my taste)

Or more Jenn Ashworth maybe? Do you know when her book is released?

kim mcgowan said...

I don't know if a publication date for Cold Light has been set. In the meantime I'm stalking Jenn around the country hoping to hear the entire novel in instalments...

I agree that Katherine's and Emily's readings were a perfect length but I absolutely loved Dave's Pluto story too; I'd read it to myself a few months ago but I preferred to hear it read aloud.


Susan said...

What a shame. You are a winner to us. Oh the humanity. Now I feel like crying...
Sue X

Dave Hartley said...

aw thanks Kim, I'm glad you enjoyed the Pluto story. I enjoyed reading it (the third that I did read anyway!)

I know what you mean about that bit when Kate didn't have the list of nominations. It would have been nice to get an acknowledgement out to everyone on the shortlists. Maybe that's something for them to remember next time.

Anyway, never mind that you didn't win. I'd have given you an award: Blog That I Most Come Back To Award or something. And what would I have done with that book-shaped prize? added it to my ever growing pile of Things To Read where it can gather dust for how ever many years. Pah!

Gosh I'm starting to sound snotty.

Keep up the good blogging


emily josephine mcphillips said...

i felt so sad reading this, then relieved when it was just a story. it's like a sliding doors moment.

kim mcgowan said...

Will you look at that? All my favourite writer-people in one place and counselling me kindly; thanks folks.

Don’t cry, Sue. Or you can if you like, sometimes it’s just what you feel like isn’t it? Did I read somewhere that you’re considering a creative writing MA? DO (if you are thinking about it!) because I love your writing.

Cheers for the no-clutter prize, Dave, (enjoying your new blog very much but missing the stories).

Don’t worry, Emily, it is just a story - but bless you for being momentarily moved. I'm really looking forward to the Arizona diaries next spring by the way...


Susan said...

Hi Kim,

Yes, I am thinking of applying to do an MA. I think the time is now to have a go (or to get rejected), so I may dare to go for it. Cheers.

Dave Hartley said...

Never fear, I will make a tentative promise of new material to appear relatively soon on my new blog.

eyes peeled

Sue-Ann said...

That's a funny story - we missed the Glittering Awards because had choir practice and the football was probably on the telly and we didn't have to think about what to read because we just post pictures!
- Couldn't help noticing the last tweet on your page - about the exoticness of jacaranda - and wanted to add that growing up in Sydney, our most favourite tree ever for climbing and building a tree house was a jacaranda in our back yard!
thanks for stopping by...

kim mcgowan said...

Hey Sue-Ann

Thanks for your comment. a slide show of your glorious images would have gone down beautifully at the Glittering Awards!

How funny about the exoticness of jacaranda - I was responding to a tweet from an Australian virtual friend who has to keep clearing her drive.

I've looked at pictures of jacarandas, is it the blossom that makes a mess? They do look great to climb.