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.

6 thoughts on “The London experience

  1. Maggie Plumb

    Congratulations and well earned.

  2. Awesome blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers?

    I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.

    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress
    or go for a paid option? There are so many options out
    there that I’m completely confused .. Any suggestions? Bless you!

    • My best tip for writers would be … just write! Like everything, the more you practice, the more skilled and confident you become.

      Having a wordpress.com site is a great way to start blogging. You can choose from a range of free themes for the site design and install widgets for functionality. WordPress will give you a free .wordpress.com domain. If you want a .com or other domain, you can buy it via wordpress.com or alternatively namecheap.com is a good place to check availability and purchase a domain.

      However, if you hope to grow your visits, and want the option of having paid advertising on your site one day, I’d suggest you start with wordpress.org. It’s not as easy to build the site, and you may need the help of a developer from time-to-time, but it gives you ultimate freedom in the long-term.

      I hope this helps … and good luck!

      Cheers,
      Summer

  3. Marg Lambert

    I got started with writing because I had a story to tell. It can help to have a topic that you are passionate about, and to write from your own experience. Then as Summer said, it can develop further with practice.

    All the best
    Marg

  4. Margaret LambertMarg Lambert

    Thanks Kathleen x

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