BRISBANIA MARK THE TWAIN
Of course, I did have other things to do while I was in Brisbane, chief amongst them being two workshops for the Queensland Writer's Centre: The Art of Critiquing, and The Proper Care And Feeding of Your Genre- Writing SF & Fantasy.
Goodness gracious me. How many people can you cram into a room? 16 people came for the Thursday night session, and another 22 for the SF writing on Saturday. That's a whole lot of heads, people. That's a whole lot of eyes.
Thankfully, I had great rooms. There's something about the air in Brisbane: they take their writing very, very seriously. They worked me like a thrupenny upright, pushing questions at me from all angles, taking notes and voicing opinions, and writing like editors were lining up at the door outside. The QWC were professional, supportive, and couldn't hae worked harder to make the experience positive and enjoyable. Like the Clarion experience, I want to work with these guys again. Money is one thing, but I felt rewarded.
I don't know what it is about Perth, I really don't. But I entered another sphere in Queensland, and from a purely writing point of view, I can't help but feel that my own professional development has been (and will be) hindered by my choice of location. If you can't have everything, then this was the everything I can't have. I've come home with an awful lot to think about. Look for a change in habit, starting from the end of tonight's posts.
OPEN UP AND SAY AA
Saturday night, of course, saw the staging of the 11th annual Aurealis Awards. Being in town with nothing better to do than to make a drunken spectalce of myself, I toffed me up (Student Peter: Your feet! They're in shoes!) and took my beautiful lady love for a night out amongst the fitlitglitterati.
It's a good night, the AAs: the ceremony is quick, and carries the right mix of professional respect and laid back bonhomie; the bar is free and plentiful; and everybody is generally pretty damn happy to see each other. Like any awards, they carry their share of the ludicrous (this year, we were treated to-- a full length graphic novel being nominated (and winning) the short fiction gongs; a presenter with a pathological inability to pronounce Eidolon, and a novel that only tied in its category being pronounced the clear winner of the Golden Aurealis for Best in Show). Yet it's all taken with a pinch of salt, and when the evening turns for the serious, the respect and admiration in the room is something to behold: I had the very good fortune to be sitting next to Bill Congreve, and when he was awarded the Peter MacNamara Award, the response was enough to give him the shakes. Bill is the coolest of cool customers, but he spent a large part of the ceremony turning his award over in his hands, and taking it out the box one more time read the inscription. I like Bill a hell of a lot, and was as happy as a very happy thing to see him pick this award up. For me, as unsuccessful in my categories as I had expected to be (I hadn't a second's uncertainty about who would win my sections, and I was dead right), it was the highlight of the evening.
I did, however, manage to get onto the stage once: as official Western Australian carrier of acceptance speeches, I had notes for no less than 4 other nominees in my pocket, and when Stephen Dedman deservedly struck gold in the Horror Short Story section, I was able to sidle up to utter a few words in his defence. Unfortunately, I can report that no amount of scraping with the edge of a ten cent piece can remove a name from the front of an Aurealis Award.....
After several hours of concentrated drinking (Ten beers, I tells 'ee! Ten!) and catching up with faces both familiar and new (A big Hello to Gary Kemble, who I was delighted to meet for the first time), Lyn and I eventually succumbed to the noise, heat, and dehydration and accepted a lift home sometime around 11.30. It had been fun, it had been an honour to step into Stephen's shoes, and it was a relief to lay my weary drunken head on my pillow.
It's likely to be my last AA ceremony for some time, so I damn well made the most of it, your honour.
A hearty conratulations to this year's winners. Much as I'd like to bitch and moan... well, okay, no, I haven't the least desire to bitch and moan. There's not a writer who was gonged who isn't a leader in the Australian SF field, and I don't have to read Williams or Lanagan or Dedman to know that when they get gonged, they deserve it. It's a good crowd, this one, and it's good to be amongst them. Slainte to you all.