Two of my stories published in 2010 just received awards from the Association for Conservation Information, where they competed against articles published in other state wildlife magazines.
“The Native Solution to Mosquito Control” took second place in the “fisheries magazine article” category. It is about a species of fish native to Arizona that consumes mosquitoes like they’re going out of style.
“Get Outside, Arizona!” took second place in the “general interest magazine article” category despite being more than 3,000 words long. Those judges either have remarkable patience, or gave up after 2,000 words but liked it well enough to give it a high score anyway.
I’ll admit it—I like winning awards. It makes me feel like I hit some sort of mark with the talent that matters most to me. I rarely receive direct comments from readers, though I’d like to. Getting an award is a kind of secondhand commentary. Readers may not write to me, but other writers think some of my stuff is OK.
Good as I feel about these two wins at ACI, two other awards this year made me feel just as good. The Outdoor Writers Association of America awarded two of its top magazine-writing prizes to authors whose work was published in Arizona Wildlife Views this year.
Bill Watt, a freelance writer based in Flagstaff, wrote so compellingly about fly-fishing Arizona’s small streams in “Trout Dreams” that they gave him their highest award in the magazine-long article category.
Ann Hirsch, daughter of legendary outdoor communicator Bob Hirsch and a fine writer and radio producer in her own right, took top honors in the “family/outdoors” category for “Unplug and Reconnect: 10 nature activities for kids in camp.”
The reason I feel great about both those stories is twofold. First, I edited them, which means I engaged in the creative, collaborative partnership that (when done well) can take a good story to the next level. Second, and more important to me, I have worked with these two fine writers for more than five years. I am very happy to see their creative efforts recognized.
The 2010 awards season is over now, and I’m happy with how we did. Maybe I shouldn’t make a big deal about these awards, though. Publicizing them feels like self-congratulation. But if I don’t, who will?
Plus, it would not be authentic of me to claim awards don’t matter to me. They do. I respond well to systems of reward.
What about you? Would the chance to win an award in your professional life motivate you?