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Wednesday 12th March

12/03/2003

Whooohooo! I’m feeling very giddy and excited after receiving my Northern Rock Writer’s Award last night. It was a really lovely night. There was champagne and chocolates,and purple flower arrangements and not too many speeches. There were several writers receiving awards, giving them time to write, or acknowledging potential. I think the approval is easily as important as the money. Writing can be so lonely, and often you don’t really know if it’s any good or not. And even if you do write something good, you’re never sure the next thing won’t be crap. So these awards are like little surges of joy and affirmation for us insecure writers. I was very pleased to see all kinds of people winning things….writers who have spent years going to workshops and redrafting novels,like Diane Simpson , and writers who are just beginning, like the brilliant young poet Emma McGordon who read a riveting poem last night. And then there’s creative geniuses like the novelist John Murray, who published my first collection of stories Bloodlines when he was the editor of Panurge Press. John lives in Cumbria and his novel Jazz etc has just come out. There’s hardworking poets like Bob Beagrie and Maureen Almond who work their socks off doing readings and workshops and making literature LIVE. And there’s new novelists who are trying to get there work out there, like the talented Avril Joy. Everyone who got a prize deserved it!

It was all terribly heartening. David Almond, who was presenting prizes said how lucky we were to be living in the North of England. I think we have a rare network of creative people here. Writers tend to know each other and to be very supportive to one another. I must have known almost all the writers who were there last night. We are lucky that there is enough to share, and I hope that most writers feel supported and included even if they didn’t win this time.

My award is overwhelmingly generous. It’s like being given a wage to be yourself…it’s a kind of fantasy that never usually happens. Anne Stevenson, the poet who won the award last year said the difference was entirely psychological. She was able to bask ! Although most things I do are not for money, primarily, the award will give me the ability to stand back and look at the big picture. I have not had a regular wage since 1985! Anyway, what a happy thing to happen! Maybe I’ve died and gone to heaven!

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