I detest being nominated for awards. I,MIGRANT was nominated for two awards this year, and hearing about the nominations brought me no joy. Not because I'm a grumbling, whinging, curmudgeon (which I am), but because I know the book isn't good enough to win. I like it, I'm proud of bits of it, but I know that compared to the other books it was up against in both awards, it would come up short. Nothing wrong with being realistic.
But nominations play with your mind. You can know you have no chance of winning, but a tiny part of your brain is already spending the prize money. Given that the actual winners of both awards donated all their winnings to charity, and I would have probably bought new pants and then spent the rest on sweet wine and premium imported Chorizo, it's probably a good thing I lost anyway.
The NSW Premier's Literary Award, I wasn't even that interested in (although the prize money was significantly large). The category I was nominated in was "Community Relations Commission for Multicultural NSW" which basically sounds like something made up specifically to justify nominating their cousin for, and then used the other nominees to make it seem legit. But I was proud to be nominated for the Russell Prize for Humour in Writing, because that's kinda my category. I knew Bernard Cohen would win from the start and he donated all his winnings to children's charities, so a class act all around and I feel the universe unfolded exactly the right way, just this once.
(Do I protest too much? Fuck off. This is me being cool and gracious, just go with it.)
In the mean time, I was asked to prepare an acceptance speech in case something went horribly wrong and I actually won. I couldn't be at the ceremony, so I wrote it for my editor and literary patron, Richard Walsh, to read. I hate the thought of wasting a bit of funny writing, so here you go. The actual acceptance speech that Richard is probably grateful to not have to read:
'Look, lets be honest, I'm not going to win this thing. The other nominees are far funnier and far better known than I am, plus the rest of them are probably in attendance even.
'But, on the minuscule off chance that all the judges forgot their medicines on the day they rendered their judgement, then misspelled someone else's name so terribly it looked like mine, here's my acceptance speech. Although frankly, I think even asking me to write one is an act of sadism, because I'm obviously not going to win. But just in case I do, I suppose I should say something using Richard's vocal chords. Which is a really weird power to have, by the way. Like, he has to read anything I say, right now, if he is to faithfully discharge the responsibility given to him.
'So, for example, I can make Richard say, "Sami is the brightest light in the literary firmament of 21st Century Australia", and he has to say it. Did you say it Richard? Someone tweet me and tell me if he did. Oh, and someone tweet me and tell me if I won. Don't tweet me if I didn't. Because lets be honest, I won't. But in case I do, tweet me. And tell me if Richard made me sound truly grateful and gracious when I make him say that this book wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for him in the first place. And for all the wonderful and charitable word-addicts over at Allen & Unwin who pushed it and promoted it and sold it and did all the things to get it in people's hands that they really shouldn't have, had they any concern for the well being of the average Australian. Still, it's out there, it's actually won something by mistake, which you totally can't take back now!
'Well, it doesn't matter anyway, because it's not going to win. But in case it does, thank you.'