A couple weeks ago, I was annoyed by the expectation that I would submit some articles for consideration in various categories for the upcoming state press association conference. What's the point? I'd go through the minor-to-moderate hassle of pawing through old papers and digging up physical copies, get caught up debating with myself whether the obvious-in-hindsight flaws in something I wrote six months ago outweighed its good points, and be one of probably over a hundred writers competing for the few "best of" categories I was even eligible for. But entering was expected of me (not required, people would just have been disappointed and curious if I didn't), so I did it anyway. I put it off until after 5 p.m. the day before they had to be mailed off and prepared two not-horrible submissions. Oh well.
While getting those ready, though, I kind of had a change of heart. I've had compliments on my work before, it's not like there's nothing good out there. Why not enter? It's not like it'll take all that long, and I win it would look great on my résumé. So rather than just searching through my hard drive in chronological order, I remembered what some of those good stories were and tracked them down.
And they were all outside the time period covered by the award. Crap. The detailed story about the town government in dire straits was published just recently, two weeks after the period allowed; the rural Internet story, which I didn't think much of at first but later on several people said it was interesting, was one week after the period allowed; the heartwarming story about the cool elementary school principal was way back a month or two before the award period... that's not to say I did nothing worth mentioning for a 13-month period, but it was frustrating that the top three or four I could think of were all unsuitable.
I'm reminded of all this today because I just wrote a headline for another story which I think would qualify. It was a pretty good human interest story, and during the interview, the subject said something like "no one's ever asked me that before." Which sounded like a good sign to me. So, well, maybe this post will help me find all these when next year comes around...