It’s been a long time since I’ve taken time to post to this blog, but not because I wasn’t thinking about great topics. Whole articles would compose themselves in my mind, but never made their way to my fingers on the keyboard. The demands of running a company, writing against self-imposed publishing deadlines, family and just plain life seem to intrude every time I want to sit down and write a new post.
Some truths are so self-evident that we take them for granted and don’t think about how much they impact our lives. Praise, for example, is something we all know we should give to our kids to help boost their self-image. Teaching children and our pets through positive reinforcement is supposed to be the best way. Getting the most productivity out of employees is best achieved through praise, rather than negative tactics. These ideas are well known and accepted, but probably not thought about very much when it comes to our own motivation. I know I didn’t realize how powerful it can be until a recent experience.
I wrote a book in 2006 called “Bottlekatz, A Complete Care Guide for Orphan Kittens,” then updated it with a new edition in 2013. This book was created for a very narrow niche, those people who rescued kittens that needed to be bottle-fed. I wrote it because, after raising 511 bottle-babies myself, I knew how difficult it was to keep the kittens alive and wanted other people to be able to benefit from my experiences. The purpose was not fame or profit, but to help more kittens survive through educating the people who rescued them. The book has done well, and is now used as a training manual for rescue groups all over the country.
I’ve achieved a level of authority in the world of cat rescue thanks to the book, but never thought of it much as a noteworthy book because of its narrow appeal. In spite of that, I submitted the book to a panel of judges for a local publishing and author group’s annual awards contest. The group, the Northern California Publishers and Authors, known as NCPA, has many extremely talented and experienced authors and publishers, so I was honored to just be part of the event. In fact, I was a little fearful about having the panel of judges read such a limited scope book and compare it to the other submissions.
The awards dinner was wonderful, with lots of opportunities to talk with some pretty exciting people. I was very proud to see my little book exhibited among the entries, and stunned when it won Honorable Mention in the General Non-Fiction category. I was shocked and thrilled to receive a plaque and stickers marked with the magic words “Book Award Winner.” The judges assured me later that my book was not only well written, but was clearly the authoritative work in its field, meeting all their criteria for an award winner in its category.
I was excited and proud, determined to do just as well next year when I will have two new books to submit. Since the awards dinner I’ve thought about my reaction and realized what a powerful thing that award was. It was not the top award, but it was validation of my identity and worth as a writer. I already knew the value of the information in the book, but this was completely different. This award felt like I’d earned my place among other authors, and affirmed the value of my vision as a writer.
I have a newly published book called “From Hindsight to Insight: A Traditional to Metaphysical Memoir, and am releasing another one within the month called “Faces of Rescue.’ I’m also writing a new one that will be called “Laura’s Dash, The Story of One Woman’s Amazing, Ordinary Life,” which should be completed next summer. That one little award has revitalized my creativity and my motivation.
We all need validation of our worth, whether we are children just learning who we are, or if we are jaded adults who need to be reminded of the value we bring to the world. Just as we all need it, we can all give that vital validation to those around us. A smile, a heartfelt thank you, a bit of praise for a job well done, even just a hug can make a huge difference in someone’s life. That small gesture will make you feel better inside, and the validation it provides can be just what someone needs to propel them forward.