2008 KIBBLE AWARD
I have just returned from Sydney where
Nights in the Asylum
won the 2008 Nita
B. Kibble award for women writers. The list of past winners contains the names
of some of Australia's greatest contemporary women writers, and it feels like
such an honour to find my own name added to the list.
Nita Kibble (1879-1962) was the first woman to be a librarian at the State
Library of New South Wales and held the position of Principal Research
Librarian from 1919 until her retirement in 1943.The Kibble Awards were
established by Nita Dobbie, through her will, in recognition of her aunt, Nita
Kibble, who had raised her from birth after her mother died. Miss Dobbie, who
followed her aunt into the library profession, believed there was a need to
foster women's writing in the community.
My novel took around three years to write. For the first two of those years I
worked full time, so writing had to be squeezed into the cracks between job and
family. Rising in the dark on winter mornings to write for a couple of hours
before leaving for work, I would think of the Canadian writer Anne Michaels who
between the hours of one and four in the morning while
her young children slept, and also of a wry comment from Elizabeth Jolley's
Woman in a Lampshade:
'Night belongs to the novelist'.
Women with families have always worked in this way, battling sleep deprivation
and the myriad claims on their time. Of the five shortlisted writers who
attended the awards in Sydney, two had brought babies under six months old with
them, so I have to say, in answer to the question of whether an award for
women writers is still relevant, that when men start turning up for the
razzamatazz of an awards ceremony with an infant in tow, then a women-only
literary award may no longer be appropriate.
In the meantime, to have won feels like such a mark of recognition, such a huge
encouragement to continue writing, and I do feel very blessed.
Other musings on the Writing Life ...