When Tehani asked Marianne and I to be the co-hosts for the Aurealis Award it made me think about what the two of us had been through. This September it will be twenty years since we met at the first Vision Writers meeting. Back then we were both so determined to become published authors that we had abandoned our husbands on Father’s Day. For years, we wore our fingers to the bone writing and rewriting books. We submitted, were rejected, reworked our books or wrote new books and submitted again. I speak for myself here, but I think it was the same for Marianne – I think our drive to succeed arose partly because we wanted the validation that we weren’t fooling ourselves. We wanted proof that we really could write.
For the awards we decided to be cheeky and do a Thelma and Louise inspired intro. What follows is my opening speech.
This year the Aurealis Awards turn 21. Over the years the awards have evolved, new categories have been added and a great many dedicated people have volunteered their time and energy to grow the awards and the genre. Having been involved in both running and establishing awards I know how much hard work there is and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of those people.
Marianne and I are delighted to be your co-hosts tonight. Like the awards we have evolved over time. We met twenty years ago at the first Vision writers meeting. Between us we had nine children, seven of them boys. Even though our youngest boys were under two, like Thelma and Louise, we dared to dream.
Unlike them, we dreamed of becoming published authors. In between making school lunches and nursing sick children we formed a writing group, went to workshops, attended writers’ festivals and studied the craft of writing. To make the time to critique our work we formed our own play group, and gave each other feedback.
Thanks to our long suffering husbands we were able to escape our families once or twice a year to attend conventions and Aurealis Awards where we really did feel like Thelma and Louise, giddy with the excitement of freedom and mental stimulation.
Somehow we found the time to meet our family responsibilities and still write books and short stories that were good enough to be published. In our spare time we organised national workshops and writers groups and helped judge awards so that we could give back to the writing community and grow the genre.
It’s been a rollicking ride and it is an honour to be here tonight co-hosting the twenty first Aurealis Awards. To celebrate we’re going to do a selfie just like Thelma and Louise.
Unlike Thelma and Louise, we won’t drive the awards off a cliff.
After the awards several younger women came up to us and said how they admired what we had done and that we had inspired them to dare to dream, and they spoke of the importance of role models. At the time I hadn’t thought about this, I had been too busy juggling my large family and trying to meet deadlines but hearing from these younger women and sharing in the joy of their successes made me realise that what you do has a ripple effect.
It was lovely to catch up with so many people. If I seemed a little stunned by the end of the evening please accept my apologies. This was the first time I have been out in public doing an event in over two years.