A few friends of mine returned from the writing-prize awards ceremony (brand name is irrelevant) "sans bling", as one put it. And the most pragmatic thing I can say is this:
It's better to have deserved to win and not won, than to have won and not deserved it.
I am not the first to make that observation. I've been a judge in three national writing competitions, and my work has won a couple of awards. Notice I don't say I won a couple of awards; I say my work won. This is an important distinction: You are not being judged, your work is. "But my work is me!" No, it's not. This is essential to remember not only when dealing with awards, but when reading reviews. My God, I've had professional reviewers make completely opposite judgments about my work, and if I took it seriously EITHER WAY, I'd be impossible to live with.
Needless to say, if your work didn't win, you're lucky if you feel that a work genuinely superior to yours won. But when it comes to writing championships,
well, they're like figure-skating competitions. A panel (usually) of judges decides who gets the bling, because the whole business is subjective. There's no finish line to cross first or ticket sales from opening weekend to measure, though at least in figure skating it's obvious whether you landed that triple or fell on your ass. For writing, it's worse. While any judge can tell whether you can write complete, coherent sentences, one judge might love your style, while another totally doesn't get it. Worse still, a judge might have something against you personally and not have the integrity to recuse himself or herself. Judges disagree, judges quarrel, judges have their pet vanities, judges have sentimental ideas about who SHOULD be the winner this time, judges vote, and the majority rules.
If your work has won, it gives you the freedom and credibility to say, "It's all crap!" if you really think so.
I might add that I recently dug out of storage one of my awards, in the form of a chunk of acrylic with a medallion embedded in it. I slipped it from its protective velveteen sleeve and found that the acrylic had gone all cloudy and yucky-looking. No one's fault, just a reminder that awards come and go, and it's only the work that endures.
[photo of ES's desk cup by ES]
To post your ideas / comments, which I want to read, click below where it says, 'No Comments,' or '2 Comments,' or whatever.
If you'd like to receive this blog automatically as an email, look to the right, above my bio, and subscribe there. Thanks for looking in.