Roundtable: All the Awards (Part 2 of 3)

Andy Duncan

Brett wrote: “Whatever Pulitzer Prize winners are still in print no doubt benefit from being able to put ‘Pulitzer Prize winner’ on their covers.”

Years ago, Russell Baker spoke to a gathering of his fellow Pulitzer winners, and he began his talk by saying something to the effect of, “Well, at least we all know what the first three words of our obits will be.”

Terry Bisson

What Kessel said. I too got some awards early on but what good are they since nobody nominates me or even bothers to read my shit anymore, not that I give a damn, since they are all a bunch of brainless puppies,  but I do have feelings, which is why I locked Nancy’s dog in Jeffrey’s closet.

Jeffrey Ford

Terry, you should get an award just for being you.  An annual event.

Gary Wolfe

But Terry, at least that last line was the first e-mail I’ve gotten all year that actually had me laughing out loud.  And if I’m not mistaken, the last story that had me laughing out loud was yours, too.

In answer to Ellen’s earlier question, Mark Kelly keeps a tally of these things on the Locus website, and here’s some Hugo trivia:

Never Won: 
Ray Bradbury, A.E. van Vogt, Lester del Rey; Gregory Benford, Norman Spinrad
Never Even Nominated: 
Michael Moorcock, Paul J. McAuley, Tim Powers, J.G. Ballard

For the Nebulas:

Never Won : Robert A. Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, R.A. Lafferty; Dan Simmons, Neal Stephenson, Tim Powers, Vernor Vinge, John Brunner
Never Even Nominated: 
Greg Egan, Paul J. McAuley, Stephen Baxter, Iain M. Banks, Christopher Priest, Rudy Rucker, Sheri S. Tepper

Karen Joy Fowler

It is true that awards don’t often change much in your life, but the only way to know this for sure is to win some.  So what changes is that you now know this, that awards don’t change your life and knowing this turns out actually to be a big change.  It’s sort of a zen koan.  It’s like publishing — I can tell my students that a writer is a person who writes, but they will believe that a writer is a person who publishes up until the day they publish.

It’s still very very nice to win or be nominated.  I can agree that you are still the same person with that same sink full of dirty dishes and that same plot problem and those same lousy sales figures, but it’s also true that the awards attention I’ve gotten has been enormously and importantly encouraging.  I suspect I would have found it painful to never see myself on an awards list.

But a writer never lacks for ways to feel misunderstood and unappreciated.   We don’t even have to go looking for them!  They seek us out in our very own homes, find us in our pajamas at our very own computers.  Early in my career I went to an event where I met a lot of professional writers, many of them people I’d read, admired, and envied for years.  I spent the evening listening to them talk to one another and came home thinking to myself, okay, I guess I still want this, but apparently it isn’t going to make me happy, after all.

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