WHY I MISTRUST ACCOLADES AND AWARDS (but give me more anyway!)

Written by on December 26th, 2014 // Filed under Erika Viktor, Uncategorized

A few months ago I was honored at a ceremony for Folio Magazine. I had won editor’s choice for this picture, as well as placing a story and two poems in the magazine.

I almost didn’t attend the ceremony because I don’t trust the Universe.

I have reasons. As it turns out, whenever I have tried to attract awards and attention to myself, dark and mysterious foes are awakened.

And they are hungry.

Other people see the universe like this:


Not me. This is how I see the universe:



I have lots of stories about the Universe being a jerk to me. Most of them involve me trying to get some accolades for what I have done. This is never a good idea.

So I didn’t want to go to the ceremony! I didn’t want the award. I planned to spend that night in a class about feelings entitled “Foundation to Human Problems.” This would have been the right thing to do.

But the editors wanted to me read from a piece! The editors wanted me to display my work! The editors wanted to give me a nifty framed thingie!


Did you hear that?




Why in the world would the Universe care if I am trying to get some measly credit for my efforts? For a long time I didn’t know why. Not until Steven told me.

Oh, you don’t know Steven?

Well, let me introduce you.

Steven Pressfield (author of Legend of Bagger Vance, The War of Art and Lion’s Gate) told me about a great principal that has been floating around for aeons. Way before framed thingies were given out to sad little authors. This principle comes directly from the Bhagavad Gita.

“We have a right to our labor, but not the fruits of our labor.”


When you first saw an iconic movie—let’s say—Princess Bride. Did you enjoy it? Did you feel light-hearted joy when Wesley wins the day and gets the girl?

The director didn’t.

Trust me, the director watched the final cut, thinking of all the flaws, wondering if it came off right, hoping the decision to cut half the act out worked. He noticed the extra that wore tennis shoes. He noticed the boom mike showing in the background of the fight scene. He noticed the slipped lines. Most of all he saw the price and the work behind it all.

In other words, he wasn’t eating apples. He was birthing them!

Gross, right?

For him, watching Princess Bride was a very different experience. He may have been proud of his efforts, but he didn’t feel that “bored on a Saturday so let’s go see a flick, oh this one looks good, hey, turns out I really liked it” sort of enthusiasm.


He experienced incumbent anxiety then moved on to the next project.

And so it will be for you.

“We have a right to our labor, but not the fruits of our labor.”

There is a rightness to that, I think. We are completely unable to experience surprise and joy at our own efforts.

Other people get that. We don’t.

What we can do is experience the pain, then the pride. Sometimes that latter never comes. Its just sitting for hours as you strain to come up with that line of dialog, that bit of captured light.

Art is weird that way.


So I tempted the Uni-jerk, skipped class and decided to go anyway. After all, people were counting on me!

He was like:


This is me with my piece on the poster as we were killing time before the ceremony:



Here I am, waiting for my name to be called. This should be exciting, right?


Here I am smiling and accepting my awesome framed thingie.


Now notice something in the next picture. Something key to my story. There’s a girl with short blonde hair on the left. She is the editor in chief and she’s suuuuuuper nice.

As I was walking back (as shown) she shouted “And she’s a great writer, too!” This picture captures her saying it:


What the camera does not capture is that as I turned around to thank her (while walking) and . . .


Right into the book shelf.

Yes, that’s right, I tripped and assaulted that bookshelf. That perfectly innocent bookshelf.

In front of a hundred people.

And the universe was like:


“We have a right to our labor, but not the fruits of our labor.”


Me, sad and humiliated, also a little hungry. Incidentally, the people at Folio were super nice to give me the award and publish my stuff, give me food and many free copies of the magazine. I would give them a framed thingie as a thank-you, but when would the madness end? When?

Please share a moment when your butt was kicked by the Universe, and I am not talking Mr. Universe. He’s a teddy bear in comparison.

11 Responses to “WHY I MISTRUST ACCOLADES AND AWARDS (but give me more anyway!)”

  1. Oh, baby, I have too many of these to count. I spill, I trip, my voice goes all quivery, there is something in my teeth. Mr. Jerk Universe doesn’t like hubris. At all. (Big congrats on your framed thingie! Do we have a trophy for that?)

    Posted by VanessaReply
  2. We can make one! It will be something so mediocre the Universe doesn’t get upset. Like an old ham.

    Posted by erikaviktorReply
    • I have some dog hair under my sofa…

      Posted by VanessaReply
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  6. Now, I’m a complete newbie (and dummie), so please help – how do I get my articles submitted to magazines? I would love to win awards too! Just not bump into bookcases, thank you! Funny stuff here!

    Posted by StevenReply
  7. I think I might have been there when you and that bookshelf had a collision! I was at that ceremony but in the back. I think you can almost see my head in the pictures. Anyway, I did like your reading. I was the guy who read the piece about that girl in the club. Cheers!

    Posted by BrianReply

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