Last night, I won the Helen Dancer Best Consumer Technology Journalist award at the annual Australian IT Journalism Awards, AKA “The Lizzies”. This was utterly surprising, and incredibly humbling. I’m still not quite sure I believe it myself.
As mentioned in the one year anniversary post, this week saw the annual Australian IT Journalism awards take place; more specifically last night at Sydney’s Luna Park. I was a finalist for Best Columnist and Best Consumer Technology Journo, but I didn’t realistically rate my chances of winning all that highly.
Frankly, and quite honestly, when you’re in a category with Campbell Simpson, Claire Porter, Harrison Polites, Lexy Savvides, Luke Hopewell, Nic Healey, Nick Broughall, Nick Ross and Seamus Byrne I figure you’re already onto a winner, because they’re all excellent journalists.
Not just the best in Australia, but some of the best in the world. That’s an absolute truth, so just being counted in their company is incredibly flattering.
As such, I was tweeting out the results (it’s a thing I seem to have fallen into doing for the #Lizzies), ready to type in the winner’s name as I’d been doing with every other category… when mine was called out.
I didn’t even have a speech planned per se. I was rather lost for words. If you want to picture what was going on in my brain as I walked to the stage, it was essentially this.
Once I got there, my brain sort of kicked into gear. I may (OK, I did, sorry) have used a strong term to describe how happy I was to win. Then I remembered the other part of the award.
It’s not just the Best Consumer Technology Journalist award, but it’s specifically named for the late Helen Dancer, who, as fate would have it, gave me my first interview for a journalism job at Australian Personal Computer Magazine*.
Yes, this was quite some time ago.
Helen was, I recall, very no-nonsense in the interview, asking me bluntly and upfront if I could work with my brother. I wanted the job, and figured I could, so I said yes. She then gave me the single best bit of advice I’ve ever had about journalism as a career.
“Don’t get into journalism if you want to get rich. You have to really love writing, but you probably won’t make much money, if at all.”
It was true back then, and it’s true now. I have incredibly fond memories of my early years at APC with a fascinating and diverse crew of people, all of whom were instrumental in shaping my writing abilities. Good, as they say, times.
I’ve been very fortunate to work for as many different people as I have, and I do indeed love the act of writing itself, even though it still feels as though I’m learning new things about it all the time. That’s the nature of being a writer, though, because I do think you should always challenge yourself — another bit of wisdom I gleaned from another sadly departed journalist, Cass Warneminde, who taught me in no uncertain terms that you never actually stop learning about writing, ever.
I also didn’t get the chance to thank everyone that I do work with; while my entry for this particular category was across multiple publications, the reality is that I’m quite blessed to work across so many different titles with relatively little friction along the way. I wouldn’t be able to win without clients willing to give me work, and for that, I’m incredibly grateful.
*(It’s also got a big fat Optus logo on it, but that’s just because they’re the naming rights sponsor this year.)