Writing Awards

So earlier tonight I was directed to a post on Chris Jones’ excellent blog, titled LOSING’S REWARD. Chris happens to be a very honest writer, and the piece details his disappointment over not winning a National Magazine Award for his profile of Roger Ebert.

I enjoyed the post, because a lot of us wouldn’t have the guts to admit we care about such trivial things. Chris wanted to win, and instead of pretending it meant nothing, he explained why it means a great deal. I respect his take.

That said, I was also a little surprised—because, and this is 100-percent truth—I haven’t cared about awards/honors/etc since … hmm, uh … honestly, I can’t even remember the last time I cared. Maybe college, when I earned a varsity letter in indoor track. Possibly during my first gig at The Tennessean, when I took home some in-house honors. Maybe, possibly … hmm. Not sure.

From my perspective, writing awards are crap, because there’s no such thing as BEST. I really mean that. In mathemtics, somebody can solve the last remaining equation. In medicine, there are cures to be uncovered. But writing is so … so … so—subjective. It really is. For example, I thought the Ebert piece was wonderful. A friend of mine thought it was painfully dull. I know people who consider Wright Thompson to be the greatest sportswriter of the modern era. I know others who think he needs to stop writing in first person all the time. If you go to Amazon and look at the reviews of my books, I’m either the greatest sports author since Roger Kahn or a third-rate hack (probably somewhere in between).

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Were I to ever win a Pulitzer (not gonna happen—just saying as an example), I wouldn’t overwhelmingly care. At least I don’t think I would. I write because I love to write, and I dig creativity. I never approach an article or book thinking, “How can I get the reader to like this?” or “How can I get the reader to like me?” I’ve moved way beyond that—probably the result of being a work-from-home dad with a wonderful wife and two kids. If I like something I’ve written, I’m chipper. If the wife likes it, I’m euphoric.

Then I go to sleep.

PS: I read Scott Raab’s semi-jerky comments on Chris’ blog. Much was made of their conflict. If it makes Chris feel better, I’ve actually never heard of Scott Raab before today. For real.

1 thought on “Writing Awards”

  1. “If you write something, and someone pays you for it, and the check doesn’t bounce, and you use that money to pay the light bill, you are a talented writer.”

    Stephen King, from “On Writing”

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