Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Writing Contest

Literary Prizes ~ Which Is More Important, the Author or the Book?


I’ve never attempted to win a writing prize. 

Is the author more important than the book?

Image Courtesy of ostillac callisto ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/ostillac-63158

Maybe being a citizen of the U.S.A. has taught me that most prizes have hidden strings that can tie up your intentions

Some folks claim prize money supports authors in a time of  faltering book earnings.

Does that mean the authors are slanting their writing in hopes of winning a prize?

And, what about all the evidence of politics amongst various prize judges?

In my very personal opinion, winning prizes can be as bad as the stifling effects of author branding.

Curious stuff

But, please don’t take my opinions as some attempt at moral judgement—I’m sure some authors actually do deserve every accolade they receive, monetary or media.

Let’s look at the Nobel Prize won by non-fiction author Svetlana Alexievich.

She won about US$970,000.

Is such a sum enough to ease all the burdens she’s endured in her 67 years?

Perhaps it will alleviate some pressures during her remaining time on Earth

The publication Quartz has an apropos article I’ll share a few excerpts from—Turning Authors into Celebrities Is Bad for Reading:

“Prizes like the Nobel inspire much ado—in the weeks leading up to the announcement, people give their best guesses as to who will win, look back on past “snubbed” winners, and even place bets as if spectators at a Derby.”

“Our laurel-heaping impulse seems increasingly to contribute to a culture of turning authors into celebrities, where readers follow the author instead of the book.”

Then comes a quote from an author wrapped in mystery (she uses a pseudonym and communicates primarily through letters and email), Elena Ferrante:

“I believe that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors…If [books] have something to say, they will sooner or later find readers; if not, they won’t…True miracles are the ones whose makers will never be known; they are the very small miracles of the secret spirits of the home or the great miracles that leave us truly astonished.”

One last excerpt from the Quartz article:

“…our culture of celebrity is often too wrapped up in the way we read: How might the meaning of a work change if the author really didn’t grow up in a poor neighborhood, or if she was abused in childhood, or if she is really a man? Even the anonymous Ferrante has been made the centerpiece of her books’ success.

Finally, here’s Doris Lessing‘s reaction to winning the Nobel Prize:

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Most Common Words Writing Challenge ~ And, The Winner Is . . .


Blogs are a strange writing medium.

Over time, the single posts become related to each other—through links, tags, and cross-referencing.

Take the Writing Challenge Series:

Post on June 10, 2011Writing Challenge ~ Use The 1200 Most Common Words To Write A Story…

The Challenge is issued

Post on July 29, 2011First Response To Our Writing Challenge :-)

Someone takes a nibbleone chapter with 100 of the 1200 Most Common English Words is written

Post on March 26, 2012More from The Writing Challenge With The Most Common Words

Someone else enters the Challenge—I get it wrong and think they’re adding two chapters to the first one—nope; new person, two chapters of a new story

Post on April 16, 2012Yet More From The Writing Challenge ~ Use The 1200 Most Common English Words In A Story

The second contestant gets to five chapters—500 of the Most Common Words used—and I create a downloadable file for folks to read

Today’s PostBarbara Blackcinder completes the Challenge—12-chapter-story with 100 of the Most Common Words in each chapter—working from the end of the List to the beginning

And, in case you’re not a link-hopping blog reader, here’s the link that let’s you download the List of The 1200 Most Commonly Used Words In The English Language.

And, here’s a link that let’s you download Chased  by Barbara Blackcinderthe Winner of Our Challenge!! :-)

Plus, Barbara has done us the favor of making the most common words show up Red in the manuscript

Enjoy and, please, come back and leave Barbara some feedback or a comment.
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