As this years judging of the Tim Winton Awards draws to a close I am conscious of just how sophisticated some of our young writers are, and of the vital role our remaining writing competitions play in fostering this sophistication.
Tim Winton himself has forged a path for these young writers to follow. Seeing the drama, the humour and sense of adventure portrayed in familiar settings, written down and shared with others by a world class author, brings a degree of confidence which allows others to give it a go. We would not have such a thriving community of young writers without him and other local writers who have followed. However, without the rewards, monetary and otherwise, that writing competitions provide some of the best books, movies, TV series, computer games and plays will not continue to be written. Writing is hard work. It is most often carried out in isolation, which makes it absolutely essential to encourage young writers not to give up. Tim Winton’s success in bringing his own very West Australian stories to a world audience inspires us to tell our own stories, in words and pictures, not only to make sense of the world we live in, but to keep our unique culture alive.
While we mourn the absence of the WA Newspapers Young Writer’s Competition this year, we celebrate the fact that more than twice as many students have entered the Tim Winton Awards. This extra load has really stretched the organisers at the Subiaco Library and their team of volunteer judges. But it is a load that I, for one, gladly shoulder in order to encourage young writers to describe their world and to maintain a sense of our shared cultural identity.