List-making

There are good reasons to feel uneasy about lists. Coming up with a shortlist for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award was the stuff of nightmare. Not because of who was on it, but because of all the books you couldn’t include. (We were only allowed three.)

So I was really pleased to see that the Inky Awards long-list was completely different and included a lot of the books I’d agonised over having to leave out.

I don’t think I’ll be putting my hand up to judge another literary award for a long time. Being a judge had a negative effect on my own writing, making me super-critical of every sentence that I wrote so it was a struggle to get to the end of my new novel. But it also helped me understand what judges go through when they come up with lists, how flawed any list will be, and that who wins is very arbitrary. So it was both humbling and liberating – I felt less impressed by my own prizes and shortlistings and also appreciated why my books haven’t won every single prize for which they’ve been nominated. There are a lot of good books that deserve our attention and prizes are one way of drawing our attention to them. So the more lists and the more diverse those lists are, the better for readers and writers.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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