Karen Bayly

Author and Copywriter

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On Awards and Gratitude

On Awards and Art

I received a newsletter recently from Jonathan Fields of The Good Life Project where he wrote:

“I just know when something moves me. Increasingly, I wonder if that’s the true measure of art. In any form. To push us beyond aesthetic appreciation. Past rational examination and interpretation. Past fascination, or education. And deliver us back into the simpler, reflexive realm of emotion. That transcendent place where we stand helpless, eyes welling, throat-lumping, breath catching, mind dizzying, knees softening.”

I can’t agree more. I realised ages ago that as a fiction writer I would probably never win any awards. My style and the things I write about are not beloved of judges and critics. It hurt initially – but after a while I ceased to care. I wrote because I wanted to move someone, anyone - just one person would do, but more was better.

Although many of my favourite authors are award winners, quite a few have yet to win anything. However, I don't love their work for their literary credentials. I love their work because it moves me, because it inspires me, because for those few moments I am caught in their words, the world is pure magic.

Most of all, they make me feel I am not alone. And for that they earn my eternal gratitude.

Some of my favourite authors - the ones with cats (others are dog people)

7 other things I’m grateful for (in no particular order):

My cats

Murray and George keep me sane and give me something to look forward to when I come home. I’d spend every day at home with them if I could!

Murray and George


Dancing is my preferred form of exercise. I go to a tribal style dance class once a week and it makes me happy. Plus thinking about dancing is something I can do on a bus or train. I’ve choreographed whole routines in my head, but I’m not so good at transferring my creations to the world of real bodies! I love my dance classes and sorely wish I could get back to my week day jazz and tap classes.


I don’t need to play music or listen to music as I tend to hear songs in my head any time of day. However, while I don’t need to play music or listen to music, it makes my soul sing to do so.

Yes, that’s me playing classical guitar

Fiction - be it books, movies or TV shows

Fiction gives me hope even when it is sad or dystopian. It binds me to the rest of humanity in a way real life stories never do.

The stars at night

From my backyard, and depending on the month and hour of night, I can see the Southern Cross, Orion, the Pleiades, or Scorpius to name but a few constellations. Looking up at the stars at night makes me feel small and inconsequential. Somehow, I find that extremely comforting. No matter what is going on in my life, or in the world, in the time of stars it is nothing.

ABC Starhunt

My house

I love my house. It's getting on in years and a bit run down - like me. We’ve been through some rough times but I’ve always felt that it is here to protect me. And I do the same for it. I’d like to lavish money on it with some major renovations, but that’s not currently an option. I hope it knows and understands.

The way I look at the world

My thinking processes changed when I did my PhD. It wasn’t just a matter of being more logical or skeptical, but one of being more curious and questioning. It taught me that no-one can know all the answers and that it is okay to say “I don’t know”.

I learned to see the big picture and the detail. I'm enchanted by the minutiae of life as much as I am by it’s wild, broad sweep. Yet I take everything I see, read and hear, and hold it up to scrutiny.

This means I sometimes am accused of being negative but I don’t see it that way. I think I see things for what they are, not how I want them to be. Wishing doesn’t make your desires happen. Doing your best to change your life doesn’t mean it will change. Sometimes you will fail. Sometimes all you can do is give up. None of that stops me being grateful for what I have.

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