I never dreamed I would ever go to London to receive a book award. It was quite a shock to see my name included in the list of winners on the London Book Festival website. In fact, I checked the list several times to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake – and even showed it to my daughter and husband to verify that I wasn’t imagining it!
After all, this was the first book I had written and it had taken me 10 years to complete. I imagined there were well-established authors from all over the world who had submitted their books and so it would be difficult – if not impossible – for a novice author to be considered.
But, to my great surprise and delight, my first book Longing to Live: Journey with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia received an Honourable Mention in the London Book Festival 2013 awards.
Accompanied by my daughter, Alison, I travelled to London in January to participate in the awards ceremony, held in the British Library. Being a librarian in a previous career, receiving an award in the British Library was nothing short of awesome! This library, one of the greatest in the world, houses centuries-old documents including the Magna Carta and – most intriguing for me – sacred texts from various religions, scribed and decorated, from the earliest times of record keeping.
Travelling some 14,000 kilometres from Darwin to London to receive a book award may seem crazy. However, being in the company of other award-winning authors (for many this was not their first award) and to be receiving a book award in the British Library was reason enough to go. The distance and an alternative means of receiving my book award did not seem to warrant much consideration at all. It was indeed a tremendous privilege to be able to make the journey and to be there.
Beyond the honour of the book award is, more importantly, the acknowledgement that chronic illness featured among more glamorous and popular topics in the world of books and storytelling. This is a window of hope for those of us suffering health conditions that are poorly understood.
If an Honourable Mention award for Longing to Live: Journey with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia can facilitate the book reaching more people, particularly those who struggle with these difficult conditions and those who care for them in some capacity – family, friends, health professionals, work colleagues – then much has been achieved in the support of others.
This is a direct quote from my book, which became part of my acceptance speech at the British Library.
“We are forever changed by our major life experiences. Circumstances beyond our control may force changes in our lives that we do not like and many diminish our ability for engagement in many ways, but our intrinsic value as a human being remains nonetheless. Valuing our human beingness is more likely to lead us to acceptance and patience with our changed conditions, and be open to the opportunities that allow us to grow into the people that we are now able to become.”
I was privileged to meet other award-winning authors at the London Book Festival. These authors are listed below with links to their books.
- Mandy Flint and Elisabet Vinberg Hearn: The Team Formula
- Page Martin: Promise to Pay the Bearer
- Charlotte Jones: The Enchanted Grandfather’s Clock
- William Peace: Sable Shadow & the Presence
- R.F. Tapsell: The Year of the Horsetails
- Lila Ivey: Ancient Wisdom Modern Master: The Story of Yogi Amrit Desai
- Katherine Reynolds: Under the Rainbow
- Robin E. Lieske: An Idiot’s Tale: The lost writings of Rapunzel
- Christina Benjamin: The Geneva Project – Truth
- Julie Kessler: Fifty-Fifty, the Clarity of Hindsight
- Dulce Rodrigues: Barry’s Adventure
- Patricia A. Sloan: Where do the Monday’s go?