As the author, I’m naturally very proud of The Four Realms. What surprised, and genuinely delighted me, is how well it has been received. So I’m doing the ‘happy Snoopy dance’ to find out that Fantasy Book Review has selected it as one of their books of the month for March. They obviously have impeccable taste so I urge you to check out the others (or buy my novel if you’ve not yet done so!)
Any author that tells you that they don’t google their own name is probably lying. However, ego surfing can often turn up commentary and reviews of your work that you would otherwise be unaware of. I’ve been doing a bit of it, mainly through twitter searches and google alerts to find out about new reviews of the novel. However, it was only yesterday that I turned up something I can’t believe I missed.
I’ve been pretty wound up the last couple of days. And yes, I know I’m getting older and have publically said I intend to become a “grumpy old man”, but this is about books. Books!
I’ve sat on this for a couple of days because I disagree with people I like. I think they’re massively wrong but that doesn’t mean I think they’re idiots or never want to speak to them again. So I don’t want to say anything that singles them out or distorts what they actually said. Over the last couple of days I’ve slipped into generalisations, and as we know people are defined by their exceptions, quirky little beasts that they are.
So I’m going to talk in general terms and not mention names. So if you read this and think “that sort of sounds like what we were talking about the other day” it probably was, but that was my jumping off point and my argument is not about the specifics. I want to talk about books and nepotism and awards and promotion, and I want to talk in general terms.
One of the traits of being a writer (at least for me – I’m not sure if it holds universally true) is that you spend an awful lot of time wondering if you’re any good. I heard someone say that “all good artists constantly doubt themselves” and I hope that’s true, because there are times, when the words feel like they’ve tied themselves up in knots, that I honestly think I have no business being in this industry at all.
I suppose to someone who doesn’t write, it can all seem a little narcacistic, but in this industry affirmation and re-affirmation of talent are incredibly important. It might just be that most writers are quivering wrecks of self-doubt and self-loathing – I seem to do both of those very well – but it might be that good writers push themselves well beyond reasonable expectation, and as a result the finished result can feel like a disappointment.
This is why those little moments of validation are important. Whether it be a personalised comment on a rejection (One on mine that said “You can obviously write” is still a source of validation when things get tough), or a nice comment about a story you’ve put online, it all helps with those days when you just feel you have no place being a writer.
So with that in mind, I’d like to thank those of you who nominated Sci-Fi Art for a British Fantasy Award. It was a tremendous shock when it was announced (I think Sam Sykes might have had to verbally slap me) and whilst I genuinely knew it would get no further than a nomination, just that was an incredible validation.
And then last week, the BFS announce some little web badges for those that won, were short-listed and were nominated. It’s a little thing, just a little made up web graphic, but it came at a time when I was deep in edits and wondering whether I was just fooling myself with this “writing lark”. Needless to say, it snapped me out of my depression and put a smile on my face. More importantly it made me dive back into those edits with renewed vigour.
So thank you. Seriously, if you nominated the book, I really, really appreciate it. It’s taught me that if you are able to vote or nominate in any awards, you really should. Yes, it may be that whatever you personally liked won’t get further than a nomination, but those nominations mean the world to a writer who’s knee-deep in work and having one of those periods of self-doubt. I’ve made a point of nominating books and stories I’ve really enjoyed this last year and I hope that any nominations that come the authors’ way give them the same lift I got when I got mine. It’s simple to do and it can mean the world to those of us who try and push and stretch ourselves.
When I was a boy, I had this vision of the Hugo Awards looking a bit like the Oscars. I imagined there would be a orchestra, and for years (and I do mean years) I tried to decide what I would have as my music if I ever went up to accept an award.
It was only a few years ago that I actually got to see video of a Hugo Awards Ceremony and I was disappointed to see there was no orchestra, just someone with a tape recorder who played the Star Trek TNG theme as people went up to accept their awards (as a lifelong Star Wars fan, I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I was).
However, since then, trying to find coverage of the Hugo Awards (other than the results) has often seen me waiting weeks.
At Eastercon, I got to see the nominations announced live, and it was incredibly exciting. It left me wanting more.
So I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate the Hugo Coverage by Cheryl Morgan, Mur Laferty & Kevin Standlee. The video feed suffered problems but you know what, it was enough to give you the atmosphere. As someone who has provided online coverage for events, I know how much hard work these things are. I think what was done this year was a great foundation that can be built on.
So Mur, Cheryl & Kevin, you’ll probably never get to read this, but thank you. I really appreciated the coverage and video. Maybe one year I’ll get to see the awards live, but until then you’re coverage is almost as good.