when awards are bad for your work. Plus five Tips for Surviving the Awards Season.
One of the best nights of my life included dashing offstage after a theater performance, throwing on a cocktail dress and rushing to catch the tail end of the Addys, husband and parents in tow, to watch my team win several of the top advertising awards.
My vision board for my acting life includes an Oscar.
I'm a Type A. I like awards. But oh there's a dark side. Like when you don't win. Or you begin to choose your project, or your solution, based on what seems the surest path to the shiny. Especially when that takes you away from passion or truth.
Matt De La Pena and the Newbery
There was a huge shake-up in the world of children's literature this week, when Matt de la Pena's picture book, Last Stop on Market Street, won The Newbery Medal for this year's "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."
A picture book is not supposed to win (it's only happened once before). And this book was not without controversy. Written colloquially, it attracted ire for not promoting proper English. But as de la Pena responds regarding his main character, "The way he speaks on the bus is the truth, not a lesson." (To read more from de la Pena, check out "'A Huge, Huge Shock'" on Publisher's Weekly.)
De la Pena couldn't have written to win a Newbery. That was so outside the realm of possibility, he didn't believe it when he first heard it. But he can write to his passion, and he can write to his truth. When you start there, you often end with better, stronger, more powerful work than when you come from a calculated place, a shiny-chasing place.
Got it? Good.
We'll wrap up with a few quick tips on surviving award season, no matter your industry.
5 Tips for Surviving the Awards Season
- Watch out for the rabbit hole. The time you spend in the echo chamber of the awards prediction cycle is time you're not concentrating on your own work. And it's not going to change who wins.
- Use awards as recommendations for movies, books, agencies, etc. you wouldn't normally consume/investigate.
- Spend time analyzing winning work. And bring the lessons you learn into your working life.
- If you don't win, mourn. Privately. And then get back to work.
- If you win, celebrate. And then get back to the work.