“Compulation” of success

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There’s not a lot of tangible reward to being a journalist. Most of my journalist friends are rebel types with above average work ethic. Even inside writers of the fluffiest fuzzies, not  too far down, a First Amendment soldier lurks.

It’s rewarding to tell people’s stories, to actively participate in free speech, to have a job writing (Writer’s Digest sends me a depressing email at least once a week with a subject line “You CAN make a living writing!”).

But that’s about it. We don’t make a lot of money. Our field is changing by the minute so we’re constantly being challenged to find new ways for print to survive. The line between advertising and editorial is growing so muddy you could ford the river between the two in a nice new pair of goulashes.

That’s why awards season is so fun for journalists. It’s validation for a job well done when there’s little other tangible validation to be found. (Also, most of us have fragile egos and fluctuating self confidence. We did, after all, choose a profession where everything we do has a byline.)

The point of this loquacious lead: I won some writing awards at the Press Club of Cleveland’s statewide Excellence in Journalism contest.

I was so excited to attend the ceremony. I wore my new library card shirt from my new gig at The Library Store. #alwaysbeworking

Library shirt

I placed first in non-daily newspaper writing for the category Personality Profile writing for this story about Alix, and second for Arts and Entertainment reporting for this article about the two toddler-refugees-turned-CCAD-designers.

The big one, though, was this guy:

award

Best Freelance Journalist in Ohio. Bam!

Wait… is that… that word… is spelled wrong… oh… oh god!

award closeup

Pretty immediately, though, I decided the “compulation” on my award was perfect. Two reasons.

1)  It’s a reminder that copy editors are important. What a concept.

2) It’s a reminder to keep working and working as hard as possible. I may be good, but I could be better. For every success I have I can count five other fuck ups. Mistakes don’t mean I’m not talented, and success doesn’t mean I’m not human. Keep that ego and that self-criticism in balance, sister, and then you really win.

flowers

About Jackie Mantey

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