So you’re writing a story and the protagonist wins an award. She gets up on stage — maybe you have her trip on the stairs for humor’s sake or to break up the pacing — and then she begins her big speech. The only thing she can blurt out is, “I’m totally humbled by this award.”
This is first draft stuff, where clichés rule. You need to cut that dialog and have the protagonist thank her cat (hmm, that might be cliché too) or, I don’t know, do jumping jacks. Anything but say the overused “humbled.”
Maddi’s Fridge has won a 2015 Christopher Award in the Books for Young People category.
The only word that I can think of, even a week later, is…humbled.
Humbled because I don’t know where my friend Liz, whose empty refrigerator was the tear in my heart that began this story, ended up in adulthood.
Humbled because the manuscript for Maddi’s Fridge somehow landed in exactly the right place: the talented and competent hands of my editor, Shari Dash Greenspan at Flashlight Press.
Humbled by the incredibly fun and beautiful illustrations drawn by Vin Vogel.
Humbled by all of the great books published in 2014 that also “affirm the highest values of the human spirit.” They are out there lighting the darkness. Find them.
Especially humbled by all of the volunteers in food banks across the United States. No one is throwing them a party or giving them a medal. They lug heavy boxes and sometimes search nearly empty shelves. They hold hope in their hearts while working to feed hungry kids and the elderly. They help families that have no where else to turn.
While clichés may not work in literature, in the real world some still have deep meaning. (“Hearts of gold” comes to mind when I think of the volunteers at food banks.)
I’m totally humbled by this award.
If you’d like to help your friends and neighbors who might have empty refrigerators, here’s a link to Feeding America.