Oops — my mistake. The FBA is not quite so profligate as I thought.
Those are three words you won’t read often anywhere near yours truly: “Oops” and “my mistake.” But late yesterday someone named “matt” wrote to suggest that I misread the press release from the fine folks at the Florida Book Awards.
That would be the press release that inspired my remarks about “award inflation” and the uselessness of too many awards.
“matt” politely apologized for “ruining your rant,” and proceeded to point out that the geographical winners — something I made a big deal about in yesterday’s blog post — did not actually amount to separate awards, but merely informed us as to where the winners came from in the state of Florida.
My initial response was, yeah but: Yeah, but, the FBA still gives out not only gold medals in each of eight categories, but also silver and bronze, and in some cases the bronze medals go to as many as three different books. My argument stands: The FBA gives too many awards, thereby diluting the impact of its own prizes, not to mention arts awards in general.
Then last night as I was motoring down into slumberland, I had one of those moments you get when the maiden turns into the
crone, or the rabbit into the duck, or the vase into the two profiles: Oh, wait: My misreading of the press release is much worse than I thought, and it does !@#$%^&* weaken my argument.
So: Sorry. My only excuse is that this is what comes from working too fast. I blame the new media — and long for the old media days when I wrote one or two meticulously reported and carefully crafted stories and/or reviews per week. And oh for the days when those pieces went through the hands of a content editor, a copy editor (or three) and a proofreader and then back to me before hitting the presses.
Nowadays, I’m on my lonesome, cranking out five blog posts a week, plus freelance stories and reviews, plus ghostwriting books whenever I can get the work. No one edits or proofs my work but me, and no one is there to offer a squint eye and a perceptive question now and then.
To me this whole thing is doubly ironic because just Sunday I ran into Robin Berkowitz at the gym. Robin was my supervisor at the Sun-Sentinel for 12 or 13 years, and though I worked with some good editors during my newspaper career, she was head and shoulders the best.
Robin would have caught this misreading of the FBA in a heartbeat, thus saving me from today’s soupcon of embarrassment. I hadn’t seen Robin in a couple of years — she doesn’t work at the paper anymore, either — and our too-brief reunion made me achingly nostalgic for the way things were when I actually had professional editorial support.
That’s not an excuse. Yesterday’s gone, don’t stop thinkin’ about tomorrow. If I’m going to continue seeking my bread as a journalist, then I have to accept the realities of the new marketplace. And right now those realities mean I’m solely responsible for the accuracy and sense of everything I write. No editors, no proofreaders, no fact checkers. Just little ol’ me.
So here’s to you, FBA: My apologies. Because I misread your press release, I was a little too hard on you people yesterday. I still think my general
argument stands — there are too damned many awards, and you are contributing to the problem — but it’s not as bad as I thought by about exactly half.
I know that you mean well. I know that you intend to help promote literary culture in Florida by handing how the FBA’s. I know in principle we are on the same side (and so, of course, are the angels).
So: Mea (gulp!) culpa.