Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Awards Eligibility and Assorted Grumblings

A hard-earned and well-deserved prize. :)
I have to admit to being pretty ambivalent about awards. I wish I could be completely indifferent to them, as some claim to be; God knows I've tried. What matters is the work: I've said that many times and I believe it. That's what counts, not the money or the tick you get from teacher for doing it well, but show me a writer who's never suffered crippling doubt or a profound sense of 'why the hell do I even bother doing this?' and I'll show you a liar or a raving egomaniac (who's quite probably a shit writer into the bargain.)

Self-doubt is a bastard that gnaws at us all. Over the past few years, I've seen many other writers get multi-book deals while my own career stayed stalled. It wasn't their success that rankled; just my lack of it. It doesn't take much to bring out that persistent little inner troll that tells you you're a fraud, a fake, an imposter, a second-division hack who's worthless compared to the other talents out there. I've had a good year in professional terms, but that doesn't kill the troll; it's a persistent, nasty little beast, and you take whatever fire you can to drive it back into the dark.

In the absence of fame or riches, an awards nomination can mean a lot. And there are many, many good writers whose work, through no fault of theirs, just isn't commercial enough; if they're not going to get the big bucks, they at least deserve a damn good shout-out.

(Hell, when you're feeling low enough, a nice review on Amazon or Goodreads can do wonders for your spirits. By the same token, a one-star review can be an almighty kick in the tadpole factories, but we won't go into that.)

The flipside of that, of course, is how the run-up to awards sees so many people feverishly self-promoting, spamming and bigging themselves up. We've all seen awards of one kind or another cheapened by it, and by the prizes going - in some cases - to the loudest mouth, rather than the best writer. The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate self-promotion and passive-aggressive Facebook posts whenever they get a bad review.

If your work's good, it should get noticed, but that doesn't always happen. I've been in more than one anthology that's sunk without trace due to poor promotion or other fuck-ups, and stories (no, not just mine) that deserved a wide readership failed to make even a blip on most readers' radar.

A degree of self-promotion is necessary, but pinpointing how much is too much is never easy. Blowing your own horn often goes against the grain, but if you don't make at least some attempt to call attention to your work, there's a good chance you'll be completely overlooked.

So, anyway, here's what I had published for the first time in 2015.

Hell's Ditch (Snowbooks, Dec 2015.)

Short Stories:
No Room For The Weak (Mark Allan Gunnells' blog, December 2015.)
The Climb (Black Static #49, ed. Andy Cox, TTA Press, November 2015.)
Horn Of The Hunter (Second Spectral Book of Horror Stories, ed. Mark Morris, Spectral Press, September 2015.)
The Face Of The Deep (Game Over, ed. Jonathan Green, Snowbooks, August 2015.)

Ah well: when all else fails, there's always these wise words of W.H. Auden's: "Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered."

1 comment:

Blogger said...

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