A few weeks ago, something pretty amazing and unexpected happened.
I came home from work to find an email sitting in my inbox, telling me that I had won a Northern Writers’ Award!
For those of you that aren’t familiar, the Northern Writers’ Awards are run by New Writing North, alongside Northumbria University and the Arts Council. Every year they give out around £45,000 in support to writers in the north of England.
I’ve been entering these awards on and off for years, and, finally, I’m one of the recipients.
I have to admit, it’s a strange feeling. After hearing about the award, I wasn’t allowed to say anything publicly for several weeks, until all the winners were announced at the awards dinner, which was held last night.
I only told a handful of people; even my family and close friends didn’t know anything about it. It’s not that I didn’t want to tell them, it just all felt a bit surreal. I’m not sure the win really sank in until last night.
I had a fantastic evening meeting some of the other winners and mingling with writers and publishing folks at Northumbria University in Newcastle. It was particularly emotional hearing the stories of several families who have decided to set up an award in memory of a loved one who had a passion for writing.
But this award has come at the ideal time for me. Not long before I received that email, I’d been struggling with the idea of giving up on my novel. I knew that I needed to make some big changes that would involve a lot of rewriting and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it work. I doubted my own ability. I couldn’t see a way forward for this project.
And now I’m feeling energised and excited for the challenge ahead. There’s a brilliant writing community in the north of England and it’s wonderful to be a part of it, even in a small way.
Winning this award isn’t a guarantee of publication, but it should provide me with some of the support and motivation that I need. It makes me feel that maybe my little novel is worth reading after all.
So thank you to the judges and all the people behind the awards; I’m so happy to be on the list of winners this year.
And I also want to say congratulations to another one of the winners – who happens to be a colleague of mine! What are the chances, right?
I’m super glad that Martin also received an award. His critique of my novel helped me to make a lot of progress and talking about our win (and no doubt driving everyone else in the office mad) has made the whole the thing seem more real. Can’t wait to read his finished manuscript!