Lane Cove Literary Awards 2019
This week I attended the Lane Cove Literary Awards for the first time and sipped on white wine as smoke from nearby bushfires swirled on the other side of the wide glass window. For the first time in about fifteen years, I had entered a short story competition and to my amazement, had been longlisted and more recently shortlisted. There were eight of us, and I knew there could only be one winner, so I wasn’t holding my breath. A lone jacaranda softened the skyline as a passenger jet banked steeply and I silently thanked the ladies in my writers’ group for encouraging me to enter.
They’d been on my case for about two years, but I’d been busy penning poetry and writing my first novel, which was all consuming. The only achievement I could list when we’d meet up was ‘Oh, I’ve written another chapter’, which I was proud of but didn’t have the same ring to it as getting published in X magazine or winning X and Y awards. However, a friend had given me a lovely notebook for my birthday (bespoke letterpress) and I’d jotted down a few notes as a kernel of an idea started to form.
Sampling a few canapes and staring at the sea of strangers, my palms began to bead. Before long, we were ushered to our seats and serenaded with the Town Cryer’s platitudes. A number of speeches followed by various dignitaries, including the Lane Cove Mayor Pam Palmer and then the judges announced the winners of the Youth Prize. Other categories included the Poetry Prize, the Travel Story Prize and the Resident Prize. Readings and clapping ensued, as well as a number of group photographs.
Finally, the short story section was announced and I was humbled to receive Highly Commended from the shortlisted entrants. Since I didn’t win, I wasn’t asked to read from my manuscript, which was a relief, because by this point, my nerves were almost as frayed as they could get! I’m a teacher, so I’m used to speaking in public, but it’s weird how writing something from the heart can make you supremely vulnerable.
I’d like to say congratulations to all the other longlisted, short-listed and prize-winning entrants and hats off to those who read. I’d also like to say thank you to everyone who’s supported me on my writing journey and provided encouragement, kindness and much needed feedback. And, as we all know, you’ve got to be in it to win it but to be completely honest, the joy of writing is its own reward.