13 May

I Never Tire Of This. Why I Don’t Need Awards

by Jon Katz

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”   = Leonard Cohen, Selected Poems.

In the past two weeks, four or five readers of the blog suggested that I submit some of my pictures  in the hope of getting some awards.

I was reminded that money is included in some awards, I could use it to buy the color version of my Q2 one day.

These were flattering suggestions and they were good for the ego, which absorbs all of the compliments it gets. Other people have suggested that I submit some of my essays to the New York Times or other popular magazines  so that other people might see them.

I much appreciate the suggestions, truly. But I don’t need rewards and I have no interest in sending my work to the New York Times or anywhere else.

I thought I should explain why, in all fairness.

I started my journalistic career at the New York Times and have read it all of my life. I consider it America’s greatest newspaper by far.

But I would never go back there and they would never want me. I am, at long last, doing what I should be doing in the way I should be doing it.

I believe in being honest, or at least trying. I know myself.

One reason is that I am too arrogant and proud to submit my work or photos to people who are just as apt to reject them as like them. I’ve spent much of my life butting heads with people telling me to change what I write, shorted it, or cut it in half.

I’m done with that. I am free at last.

I thought I should get that out of the way up front.

I’ve had countless rejections in my journalistic and publishing life, and I can do without them.

It’s one of the many things I love about writing on a blog – I write what I want, when I want, there are typos in most of the things I publish, there are no editors to tell me to cut my essays in half (sorry), or fix my grammar, and absolutely no one can tell me what to write or how to respond to the many jerks who are drawn to social media.

I can ignore the busybodies who tell me how to live and the yentas who search for things to correct.

It’s the perfect environment for me.

I consider my blog just as important (to me) as the New York Times is to other people. I don’t need the ratification of being published there, or the editing what would shrink or  sanitize what I write.

I love the informality of the blog, I write a lot and work alone. It is rough sometimes, and there will be mistakes, my proofreading software makes as many as I do.

I’d rather write than proofread all day, I know too many people who are paralyzed in their writing becauwe they are terrified to make a mistake.

I make mistakes all the time, and correct them when I know about them, and the world has not come an end. No one has died yet from  reading my blog.

Our educational system teaches that grammar is essential to good writing.  That ruins a lot of writers.

And that is a big lie. Spelling has nothing to do with good writing, neither does grammar. I’ve written 26 books and no,  I’ve never really learned grammar.

This is why God made editors – to fix grammatical errors..

I want my blog writing to reflect me – chaotic, intense and unpolished, just the way most people talk.

I don’t need to be slick and polished like the New York Times, I don’t talk like they write, and by the way, they would never publish my essays.

Just look at the paper. Do you see anything like them there? If they wanted to do what I do, they would. They can afford it.

As to awards, I don’t want to think of them when I take photos or make decisions about them. They are something that get into one’s head and stay there. Awards have nothing to do with creativity, they have more to do with the associations who present them.

I know many creative people who are distracted and ruined by their constant search for affirmatiion, praise and awards. I love the freedom I have of writing for me and the people who read me.

I know a lot of writers who scan writing awards and try to emulate the winners. It’s creepy.

I don’t need more ambition or static – or award – in my head than that.

I feel the same way when people tell me stories about the dogs or the refugees or the Mansion should be books. The blog is my book, my living memoir.

I don’t need to turn it or any of my stories into a book.

If people want to read what I write, they can read it right here.

Or they can skip it and go buy a book. I buy lots of books and enjoy them. I loved writing books, it brought me to the blog. This is my medium, I have no wish to go back.

This is a somewhat circular and long winded way of saying my blog is where my writing lives, and that it is more than enough for me.

For the first time in my life, I have everything I need. I’m  not looking for more.

My ego will not accept the process of groveling or begging others for recogniton, awards or the “honor” of their printing my work.

Neither will my sense of identity.

I have never been happier or more productive or effective in my writing than I am here. It helps me to write this and I hope it helps you to read it.

9 Comments

  1. Chaotic, intense & unpolished!
    I love it!
    I’ve read about a quarter of your books but truly love the daily blog. And the great photos as well.

  2. Your authenticity inspires others like myself to live our truths which enriches our lives and the world around us. The lure of perfection is a ruse. The beauty of life is that it is imperfect. Thank you for honoring your heart and for sharing your heart with the world.

  3. Another great post, Jon. I believe that writing is how I find myself, and just maybe, my story will help someone, but I am ok if my story doesn’t help. There are all sorts of motivations to write; when I read writing that’s gut honest, from the heart, and not intending to impress, (like your writing) I KNOW it and gobble it up like manna from Heaven. You’ve taught me so much about this kind of freedom of expression. Thank you.

  4. Jon, nearly every day I read your living memoir and have been since discovering it when you and Maria were traveling in New Mexico. In my writing I shall remember your telling us “My blog is where my writing lives.” It has inspired we to not worry about grammatical errors and what readers think about what comes from my heart. I, too, am “free at last.”

    Thanks for sharing your blog.

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