Writers and Literary Awards

In a letter to the editor of The New York Times, novelist Richard Greener says:

…writing is not a competitive or comparative endeavor; nor is a writer best identified by a group association, be it gender, race, age or any other such human membership.

Writing is an isolated, personal activity, the creative act of an individual not to be misattributed to or mistaken for any grouping of other people regardless of what they may share with the writer. They do not share the work.

Literary prizes may have value to those who market and sell books, but I am confident that within the heart and soul of most writers such prizes are not seen as any true measure of literary worth. One author does not compete with another. Thus, an award based on such a standard adds nothing to the merit of one’s work.

As writers, we would all do better to just write, say what we have to say and leave the judgment to the reader.

Culled from New York Times.

What do you think; should writers concern themselves only with the business of writing? Are writing prizes and awards any measure of literary merit?

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10 thoughts on “Writers and Literary Awards

  1. I agree with what Richard Greener say. But we all know that awards are lobbied for. Life itself is not fair. Many great works would never move up because the decision makers do not have access to all works. It is mostly a power play.

  2. I agree with Richard Greener. I believe a true writer lives to write and not to win literary prizes, a literay prize is just one of the things a writer picks up as he/she travels through life as a writer.

  3. I am in agreement with Richard Greener. I believe a true writer lives to write and not write to win literary prizes, a literary prizes is just one of the things a writer picks up as he/she lives to write.

  4. While the writer in me agrees, the human in me says we feel the need for validation be it in the form of a good review, a prize or award.
    That notwithstanding, many great writers never received accolades till after their death but that didn’t stop them and so isn’t a reason for anyone to give up

  5. Shawshank Redemption was initially a commercial failure but was widely acclaimed. Same applies to writing, prizes and awards are, to me, only a bonus for a writer.

  6. A true writer will forever write.
    A true writer always ends up with awards and recognition either in life or in death.

  7. I agree with him to some degree. Awards and prizes should mean more to publishers and their marketing departments. However, as a yet to be published writer, I find myself concerned with pleasing my would-be publishers and their marketing departments.

    That said, I would love to win a Hugo for vanity’s sake. Not so much as to compete with my peers, but to be considered worthy of the writers who inspire me.

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