You would think anyone would be pleased to receive an award, regardless of its prestige or professional importance. And yet many people, including writers and bloggers, have taken to shunning and disparaging awards given to them and to others.
Until recently, I was one of them.
There are four categories of awards:
- Prestigious and meaningful professional awards, the recipients of which are determined by a qualified judge or judges having expert knowledge in the field;
- Awards given by one’s peers, as an acknowledgment of talent, ability, kindness, or some other trait the award giver values;
- Awards given based on the outcome of a popular vote;
- Awards one gives oneself (often at a price).
Though these awards are listed here in relative order of importance, none of these awards are without value.
Awards given by one’s peers may be relatively important within a particular profession, but most people have never even heard of these awards. They include such things as the Society for Technical Communications (STC) awards, The Cybils, and the Heartland New Day Book Fest prizes. These awards may be as simple as a cute graphic bestowed by one blogger on another for being insightful, funny, versatile, honest – in short, for offering something the reader values. It doesn’t take much to win one of these awards, and there’s very little prestige conferred upon the recipient. In fact, such awards usually involve all kinds of soul-baring lists and reciprocal nominations and come under the heading of “feel good awards.”
Awards given based on the outcome of a popular vote include such well-known awards as The People’s Choice Awards and others that are as obscure as The Blogger’s Choice awards. (Trust me; if you’re not a blogger, they’re obscure. There’s a whole world of people out there who still don’t know what a blog is or why anyone in his right mind would bother keeping one. Keep it in perspective, fellow bloggers – the rest of the world still doesn’t care.)
Awards one gives oneself range from expensive vacations or sports cars (“I’m worth it!”) to a smile and a nod of acknowledgement (free!) as you pass by the mirror.
Recently, I remarked that authors need recognition. A fellow author replied, “As to recognition, sales are recognition. Awards I think are just icing on the cake. Any author who feels they need awards to feel recognized probably is in the wrong profession.” I understand this attitude; I share it, to some degree. But in fact, people need recognition, and authors are people, too.
Employers recognize the importance of recognition in addition to salary and other monetary compensation. Most people I know will work harder for appreciation and recognition than they will for money, and money alone doesn’t equal job satisfaction, let alone passion for the work. Whether it’s a friendly pat on the back and a few supportive or encouraging words, or a prestigious award that is recognized around the world, recognition is good for the soul. I was thrilled to fly to Oklahoma to accept awards for Trockle and A Puppy, Not a Guppy at the Heartland New Day Book Fest.
I still think there’s a time to say, “Don’t quit the day job just yet.” I still think constructive criticism has more value than lukewarm praise. And there is greater cachet in winning a widely recognized and respected award; there’s no question that winning the Nobel Prize is a coup, and winning a blogging award that’s meant to be passed on to fifteen fellow bloggers amounts to five minutes of warm fuzzies. But the world is brutal enough without us sneering at a kindness, an honor, a gesture of respect in the form of an award – any award.