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Ditmars (Withdrawal Letter)

So, the second Australian Award, The Ditmars, have been released. I've picked up a nomination, but since I decided a while back that I wouldn't be taking part of the Australian Awards for a while, I've sent an email to withdraw the nomination. The email is down below. My plan had been to just withdraw my eligibility in the future on the quiet and not make an issue out of it, but I figure with the nomination I'll just be upfront and take the step out the door here. Anyway, I suppose people are going to have opinions about this, right or wrong, and that's people for you, opinions all through.

Email sent to Conjure Awards people:

To Whom It May Concern--

I am writing to request that my nomination of the 2005 Snapshot in the William Atheling Jnr Award be withdrawn from eligibility. At the current time, due to my public opinions of awards and my issues concerning how they are organised, I believe that it is a double standard to allow my work to be part of these awards. I would greatly appreciate it if my nomination could be removed, thank you.

If, for some reason, my request will not be honoured, I would greatly appreciate it if the nomination was changed to reflect David Carroll's involvement. David has kept the forty three interviews and images upon his website at his own cost in time and money and I believe that he should receive some recognition for this.

Yours,

Ben Peek


Nominations here.

Comments

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simplykathryn
Feb. 27th, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC)
(completely unrelated to your post...)

So you like the CYHSY album?
benpeek
Feb. 27th, 2006 10:23 pm (UTC)
yep. tis cool.
bodhichitta0
Feb. 27th, 2006 10:33 pm (UTC)
I love that song (and Details of the War too.) :-D
benpeek
Feb. 28th, 2006 12:21 am (UTC)
yeah, i dig that too. i also like the song that references david bowie--what's the line, 'and you look like david bowie'?

it's a cool band. i wouldn't have found it by my own, i don't think.
bodhichitta0
Feb. 28th, 2006 12:25 am (UTC)
Over and over again--that's a good song too. "Where's the woolen sweater/you mentioned in the letter?" Where'd you hear about them from? I heard "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth" on the student station and downloaded it I think that same day or the next day.
benpeek
Feb. 28th, 2006 12:29 am (UTC)
andy sent me up a disk of music to hear a band called black mountain. it was on that. i didn't mind the black mountain stuff--it was good, but my absolute fav has been clap your hands say yeah.
bodhichitta0
Feb. 28th, 2006 12:34 am (UTC)
You gotta love friends with good music taste sending you free music. One of my friends from college is a music goddess and she sent me last year Colin Meloy from the Decemberists singing Morrissey songs. And it was er, a completely legal copy of an extremely limited release. *clears throat* Anyhow, I almost DIED because you know I *am* the Morrissey/Smiths generation and I love The Decemberists.
benpeek
Feb. 28th, 2006 12:48 am (UTC)
you old gal you :P
bodhichitta0
Feb. 28th, 2006 12:52 am (UTC)
Yes the cane and the dentures are really not all they're cracked up to be. :-p
lonewolf23
Feb. 27th, 2006 10:19 pm (UTC)
Are you sure you're not Greg Egan? *g*
benpeek
Feb. 27th, 2006 10:22 pm (UTC)
i decided you were right about it being my least controversial thing, so i needed to spice it up some ;)
punkrocker1991
Feb. 27th, 2006 10:38 pm (UTC)
Dear Ben,

Bollocks. Enough people obviously thought this was worthy of nomination and have therefore nominated it. It ain't up to you to knock this off the ballot unless you can demonstrate clearly that the work is ineligible. "I don't want to play" doesn't cut it, my friend.

However, if your piece does get enough votes to win the award, you are well within your rights to refuse to accept it.

Russell
benpeek
Feb. 27th, 2006 11:01 pm (UTC)
i don't know, man. it's an old debate the whole can/should you withdraw and i've always come down on the side that it's my work, and i have the moral right to decide where my work goes, and does not go. it's where i come from on it.

i tend to think the whole allowing the work to stay and then simply not accepting it is a suspect position. you can argue that you get the best of both worlds: the win *and* the removal of yourself. i figure it's just easier to remove myself.
punkrocker1991
Feb. 27th, 2006 11:15 pm (UTC)
I'm firmly on the other side of the fence on this one. Just as you can't tell everyone the correct reading of a piece, you can't tell awards' committees not to consider your work. I know that there are a lot of arguments but the onces I find most convincing are:

The award is for the best work in that category, and the winner should represent the best work, not the "best work that was allowed to be nominated". Of course then we have the Ditmars, where the winner inevitably represents the most popular, which pretty mch rules you and me out anyhow. But that doesn't mean that the ballot shouldn't represent the work that the nominators felt were the best in the year.

Once the nomination is out in the public sphere, just like once the work is in the public sphere, it's no longer yours exclusively. If the nominating public think it belongs there, then it ain't up to you, unless you can demonstrate it's ineligibility.

I've just realised that anything I say on this will appear compromised as I'm one of the schlubs you interviewed for that thing, but have you considered the wishes of everyone you interviewed in wanting to withdraw this work?

Feel free to tell people not to vote for it, but I don't feel you can deny people the right to vote for it. The Ditmars shouldn't be an "op-in" award -- we've got the AA's for that -- they should represent the best.
benpeek
Feb. 27th, 2006 11:32 pm (UTC)
Just as you can't tell everyone the correct reading of a piece, you can't tell awards' committees not to consider your work.

i agree with the first, of course, but i don't think the second is comparable to the first. one is the intimate experience between the reader and the work, and the other takes place outside this intimacy. of course, it could be argued that the right of the reader to demonstrate his/her favour is important, and it is, but at the same time, is not the right of the author also important?

The award is for the best work in that category, and the winner should represent the best work, not the "best work that was allowed to be nominated".

it's a fair enough statement and i agree, but ultimately, it comes down to me to where you put your preferences: in the award, or in the individual. it is arguable that the award also reflects on people, and then it gets all murky. but since there are other individuals who want to take part int he award, and who feel that they are deserving of it, then why not go with that? awards are such subjective things anyway, i don't see the hassle.

Of course then we have the Ditmars, where the winner inevitably represents the most popular, which pretty mch rules you and me out anyhow.

to be quite honest, i have no problem with the ditmars. they are what they are. but since i do have problems with the aurealis awards, and i do not wish to see my work involved in that, i feel it's only fair to step out of the australian stuff altogether.

I've just realised that anything I say on this will appear compromised as I'm one of the schlubs you interviewed for that thing, but have you considered the wishes of everyone you interviewed in wanting to withdraw this work?

i figured most of 'em were sick to death of me right now :)

it crossed my mind, really. i was tempted to just let it lie because of that, but figured that it was, in the end, the weak position to take. an excuse to keep myself out of trouble, again. i didn't much like that thought.
ex_benpayne119
Feb. 28th, 2006 07:58 am (UTC)
it's my work, and i have the moral right to decide where my work goes, and does not go.

So... you can decide who reads it, yeah? and when you sell your book, you'll hang around bookstores making sure it's not sold to cunts:)

If not, what do you mean when you say you have a right to decide where your work goes? What's the difference between an award and a review? Should you have the right to choose who reviews your work? Or speaks about it, blogs about it etc?

Is it only group opinion whose right to speak does not compete with your right to decide where your work goes, or does that apply to personal opinion too? And if not, what is the moral difference?

benpeek
Feb. 28th, 2006 10:25 am (UTC)
see, i don't view an award and a review/blog/whatever as the same thing. i see it as two distinct, different things, because at the end of the award, the individual is forced to take something back. they are being put into a position of acceptance or compliance that is not simply about their work. it is about my work *and* me, me as a person, me as an author, me as an individual.

the other stuff is just about the work. an award, due to its personal nature, also impacts on the individual. so i see it differently.
girliejones
Feb. 28th, 2006 01:38 am (UTC)
I agree with Russell - by all means refuse the award if you win but I don't think its up to you to decide if it can be nominated - once art is out in the public, its not yours anymore. It's a conversation you don't get to participate in.
benpeek
Feb. 28th, 2006 01:52 am (UTC)
i disagree that my work stops being mine when it is in the public. it is always mine. you cannot remove my authorship from it just because it has been read by some people. that it enters a conversation is fine, and if people wish to talk about it and use it, that is fine, also, but an award is a different thing. it is not a conversation--it is, rather, the reward, the thumbs up, of your peers, and it comes back to you, the author (which in this case is me).

and in relation to myself, i have the right to decide where my work will be placed. put it this way: you wouldn't reprint the work without asking me first, yes? this is because i am the author, the owner, of it. why then is this no longer the case when it comes to giving the work and i an award? am i to give up my rights to decide what can and cannot be done with my work? if so, when and where do this rights begin and end?
girliejones
Feb. 28th, 2006 01:55 am (UTC)
one is the physical piece of the work - for me to take it and print, I have reproduced it physically. The other is the thought in relation to it - the idea that some things are better/more popular/better received than others - in that way the award is a discussion.

And dude, if *only* we could control what people thought of things ... *rubs hands gleefully*.

You can't control the critique of the work and thats what an award is.
benpeek
Feb. 28th, 2006 02:19 am (UTC)
an award is not a critique. it's simply an award--a reward, really. it offers no insight into the work whatsoever.
ataxi
Feb. 28th, 2006 03:19 am (UTC)
It is a public opinion about a work, a crude consensus criticism: "thumbs up". I don't see how you can deny that. It is criticism wherein the critical argument consists of "because we said so".

You should not reasonably expect to control what awards your literature is granted any more than you should expect to write your own reviews, but you can control your relationship to the awards process.
ex_benpayne119
Feb. 28th, 2006 08:10 am (UTC)
I know plenty of reviews that consist of "I like this story" or "I didn't like this story" with a plot summary attached and no deeper insight or analysis...
girliejones
Feb. 28th, 2006 08:52 am (UTC)
Of course, we like the ones that just say "i liked this story"
ex_benpayne119
Feb. 28th, 2006 09:01 am (UTC)
Well, unless we hated the story:)

ex_benpayne119
Feb. 28th, 2006 08:08 am (UTC)
"that it enters a conversation is fine, and if people wish to talk about it and use it, that is fine, also, but an award is a different thing. it is not a conversation--it is, rather, the reward, the thumbs up, of your peers, and it comes back to you, the author (which in this case is me)"

This argument just confuses me. Are you saying an award is not a conversation because it is with your peers(?) which seems odd... or because it comes back to you, which again seems odd... what kind of conversations are *you* used to, dude?:)

"and in relation to myself, i have the right to decide where my work will be placed. put it this way: you wouldn't reprint the work without asking me first, yes? this is because i am the author, the owner, of it. why then is this no longer the case when it comes to giving the work and i an award? am i to give up my rights to decide what can and cannot be done with my work? if so, when and where do this rights begin and end?"

This is a trickier argument, but again, I don't feel that I need permission from an author to offer an opinion on their work. If I started a conversation on my blog about your new novel, and eventually a large number of people joined in, would that be infringing on your rights to decide what happens to your work? What if it happened at a party or con, in verbal dialogue?

The key to your question seems to me the definition of "what is done with my work". What entails "doing something" with someone's work? Is reading someone's work doing something with it? You could argue that it is. But curely you don't have the right to decide what things somebody does with your work while reading it... if someone reads your work and misinterprets it or hates it for reasons that you don't consider fair, you have to wear that...

Same goes for reviews... someone can review (as you well know:)) your work in a way that you may find totally unfair, but they have every right to interpret or misinterpret (according to opinion) your work in that way. I would like to stop reviewers from misinterpreting my stories to think that my characters explode for no reason:) But I can't, and that's fair, because it's their opinion; that's what a review is.

And what is an award if not a collection of people's opinions? An award is nothing but a certain number of people saying "I liked it" or "I didn't like it." You may respect those people's opinions or you may not, but what invisible line have they crossed whereby suddenly the offering of such an opinion infringes on your rights but those above aren't?

angriest
Feb. 28th, 2006 02:11 am (UTC)
Ben, you're actually unable to withdraw your work from nomination unless it is ineligible. You can, however, decline to receive the award. This happened in 2000 (Mk2) when Egan refused his Best Novel Ditmar.
benpeek
Feb. 28th, 2006 02:20 am (UTC)
hmm. i knew i should've done something about this earlier. well, fair enough, then.
benpeek
Feb. 28th, 2006 02:21 am (UTC)
actually, wait. why am i unable to withdraw?
strangedave
Feb. 28th, 2006 05:31 am (UTC)
Because we had a great big argument about it then, and many authors felt if the award doesn't reflect the field, it cheapens it, or something.
Anyway, there is precedent, and its messy.
angriest
Mar. 1st, 2006 01:52 am (UTC)
Short version: if you withdraw your work, then the award automatically becomes not "Best Australian Work" but "Best Australian Work not including that thing by Ben Peek", and is no longer representative of the field.

You are quite able to refuse the actual award if you win, however, like Egan did in 2000.
ex_benpayne119
Feb. 28th, 2006 07:54 am (UTC)
Would you allow your work to be reviewed by a newspaper whose organisation you didn't respect?

girliejones
Feb. 28th, 2006 08:54 am (UTC)
Are they communists?
ex_benpayne119
Feb. 28th, 2006 09:02 am (UTC)
Probably. Bloody pinkos!

(mental note: is girlie jones a communist?)

girliejones
Feb. 28th, 2006 10:29 am (UTC)
better red than dead eh?

oops

do think our government has discovered the internet yet?
strangedave
Feb. 28th, 2006 10:51 am (UTC)
BTW I also quite disagree with the request, however well meant, to add David Carroll. The Ditmar is explicitly for an author, asking for the web site host to be added is equivalent to adding the printer of a printed book.

FWIW I provide hosting for Ticonderoga at my own cost in time and money, and I don't think I deserve any recognition for their achievements (though I happily accept the free advertising they give me), and I'm quite happy with it that way.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 28th, 2006 06:47 pm (UTC)
Awards
I think that Ben can do whatever the fuck he wants re his fiction and a nomination for an award and people should respect his decision to do so even if they disagree with it.

JeffV
(Anonymous)
Mar. 1st, 2006 04:24 am (UTC)
Ditmar (Withdrawal Letter)
I should state up front that I'm a member of the committee discussing the current state of the Ditmars, as the 2007 Natcon representative.

I agree completely with you that you should be able to withdraw your nomination from the Ditmar ballot. If you don't want to be involved in the process then that's your decision. But I was in the minority on the committee and also told my arguments were "bollocks".

I wasn't involved when the previous problems occurred with the Ditmars - as I read it Greg Egan wanted to withdraw his work which prompted all the others in a category to do likewise. So what? If no award had been presented that year I doubt it would have happened two years in a row. But people panicked and now some fans are adamant that works cannot be withdrawn. No-one has yet come up with an argument that convinces me that an author doesn't own their work and can decide what happens to it. Yes, it is in the public forum but that doesn't mean anyone can copy, change, publish or promote it without the author's permission. If you accept that then it follows that awards are the next step. A step that is still under the author's control.

I wonder what people will think when an author wins an award after asking for their nomination to be deleted, then mounts the stage, and delivers a tirade against the award committee. If they thought that a withdrawal would be bad for the award then they are in for a surprise.

Not that I want to put thoughts into your head Ben.

Perry Middlemiss
angriest
Mar. 1st, 2006 07:48 am (UTC)
Re: Ditmar (Withdrawal Letter)
Elaborating on I said above, if an author removes a work from nomination it's unfair on all the other nominees. It automatically - intentionally or not (usually not) - put the withdrawing author up on some pedestal above the rest of the field. You can no longer win the Ditmar for Best Novel, for example - just the "Best Novel that wasn't written by Author X".

In 2000, Greg Egan was nominated for Best Novel for Teranesia (I think), and we informed him that he had been nominated and that he was perfectly free to refuse the award if he won - which he did, very politely as well.

I don't see the problem with this system as it stands. I don't think it tramples on the rights of the author at all - if you don't want the award then you are free to refuse it at the appropriate time.
girliejones
Mar. 3rd, 2006 12:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Ditmar (Withdrawal Letter)
godh! only the author can promote their work???

*looks at entire ditmar nominated website and wonders if its promotion of other people's work.. rethinks that to only the works that got good reviews *
(Anonymous)
Mar. 1st, 2006 10:47 am (UTC)
Ditmars (Withdrawal Letter)
Angriest wrote (no idea who this is):
Elaborating on I said above, if an author removes a work from nomination it's unfair on all the other nominees. It automatically - intentionally or not (usually not) - put the withdrawing author up on some pedestal above the rest of the field. You can no longer win the Ditmar for Best Novel, for example - just the "Best Novel that wasn't written by Author X".

I reply:
So when an athlete wins the 100 metres in the upcoming Commonwealth Games after a competitor decided to withdraw for personal reasons I'll look out for the announcement that they won the "100 Metres that X didn't run in" event.

Doesn't hold up. If the resultant winner wants to think that then that's their problem. You take what you can get. You sometimes hear sports-people say that their win was cheapened because a certain person wasn't involved. It's rare, but it does happen. I never see them give the award back though.

The author owns the work. What happens to the work is up to the author. End of story.

Perry Middlemiss
benpeek
Mar. 1st, 2006 09:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Ditmars (Withdrawal Letter)
Angriest wrote (no idea who this is):

grant watson.

like you, i'm with the whole what the author wants to do with the work is up to the author. i find this whole idea that i can't rather stupid, actually. it wouldn't surprise me if one day a disgruntled person got up and ripped the shit out of people for it, but, really, that won't be me. i don't go to awards ceremonies.
girliejones
Mar. 3rd, 2006 12:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Ditmars (Withdrawal Letter)
So when an athlete wins the 100 metres in the upcoming Commonwealth Games after a competitor decided to withdraw for personal reasons I'll look out for the announcement that they won the "100 Metres that X didn't run in" event

Like the guy in the speed skating from the olympics before this one? Where he only won (the Aussie) cause everyone else fell over? Best on the day, yes, but only casue everyone else fell over and yeah we still all point and laugh.

Although.. I kinda do like the idea of elitist awards - if I can successfully talk everyone else into withdrawing from my category, I can win. Doesn't make the award worth anything. We could always go back to far more popularist awards where only people who know people can nominate people we know for the award.
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