Wednesday, May 6, 2009
WHY AUTHORS LOVE AWARDS
Tomorrow I will be going into Boston to a reception being held by the Boston Author's Club. The reason: QUEST has been named a highly recommended book by the Club! Of course I am thrilled. Having your book win an award is like watching your child perform on stage! You are so very, very proud.
But I got to thinking about why awards are so very special to writers. And I realized the answer was this - we write in a bubble.
What do I mean by that? I mean this -if you had a job where you went to work every day from 9-5, you would have a boss. That boss would give you a yearly performance report and let you know daily how you are doing. But we, as writers, don't get that kind of feedback.
Sure we get sales figures - twice a year! But they don't talk and tell us the subtle things we are doing that is helping us improve our job performance or making things worse. And we do hear from readers when we visit schools - but heck, what teacher is going to come up to you as an author when you have just entertained their students for an hour and tell you that your book stunk! And yes, our editors tell us what is wrong with the manuscript we just submitted, but once that book is out the door, no one comes back to let you know how you did in the wide world out there.
So awards thrill us. They let us know that the general public appreciates our work. They let us know that we are on the right track. They let us know that our job does have some meaning and that others, besides our editors, husbands, parents and agents, think so too.
So my advice for you young writers? Before you take that important step toward deciding you want to be a writer, think about this. How important is it to you to be told you are doing well? At school, can you do your work without worrying about the grade you will ultimately receive? Do you study for the love of it alone and because you want to do the best job you can regardless of the outcome? Are you proud of what you have done, even if no one else tells you that you are amazing? If you answered yes to these questions, good for you. Writing books just may be your intended field. If you answered no, then you might want to consider writing for a magazine or newspaper - someplace where you will have a boss and a performance report and someone giving you consistent feedback.
As for me, I love my bubble. But sometimes, I love leaving it to watch one of my books marched out on stage and paraded about and given that so, so satisfying award that lets me know my performance has been well-received.