Monday 8th of November is a day to remember. The short-listed authors for the four categories were invited along with a guest to Zinc restaurant in Federation Square, Melbourne. There the Minister for the Arts Simon Crean made the announcements. The Prime Minister Julia Gillard first spoke about the awards.
A topic of conversation from the sending out of the invitations a week before, to the 10.30 am commencement of the wards ceremony was: did the short-listed authors know the winner, or did the relevant publishing houses know the winner?
Authors were advised that there was a 2 minute speech time. But should all authors be prepared with a speech? I wasn't- well I wrote a rough few lines in the train going down to Melbourne- I was intending to enjoy the function and not stress about not winning. As as each successful author was announced (fiction, non fiction YA )and the winner was overcome with shock, elation, emotion, (and a real need to screech) it was clear to the audience that the winners were only being revealed as they watched and listened.
So when they came to the fourth and final category- children's fiction and the title 'Star jumps' was read out- I was seriously wondering how to make it to the platform- what to take( no glasses I'd left them home in my haste to catch that train) so I took the exercise book I'd scribbled my brief attempt at a speech in. My husband Kelvin assures me that he kissed and cuddled me first...hmm don't remember that part.
But there was Julia Gillard smiling and waiting and holding a framed certificate, gold envelope and a white box. All for me!!!
Once on stage I looked out to a sea of cameras and tripods. My voice wavered. What had I written in my notebook? Even glasses borrowed from Sue couldn't help me to see.
But genuine emotion, elation, spilled out over the faces. My 'Star Jumps' that book written with more tears than typeface had won a major awrad. My 'Star Jumps' written in prose poetry, the book I wanted to write, had to write, that takes the reader into the time of crisis on a real to life dairy farm, had won a major award.
So here now I say my thanks. My daughter Natalie asked if I'd thanked God. So here I thank God for that talent of writing; to my six children so readily glimpsed in the lives of Ruby, Connor and Keely; to my husband Kelvin with whom our farming life was pioneered; to my publisher Sarah Foster at Walker for her love of poetry; to Sue Whiting my editor who so brilliantly edited, to Mim the designer at Walker for the cover; to May Gibbs Literature trust Norwood, Adelaide for giving me that time to write and cry and write again. Because this is a book that carries my heart, in a quiet, farming way.
And to all my writing friends- all is possible, keep writing, keep writing, and thanks for knowing how to encourage.