At the end of November I attended the final awards night for Kidspot’s Voices of 2013. I was very pleasantly surprised by the announcement that Ford had chosen me as the sponsor’s choice and I came home with a car for 12 months! Well not literally; I flew home, but the car wasn’t far behind.
I wrote about my fascination with the Sexy Beast, aka the red Ford Territory Titanium I was given to drive, as I was taking part in the Ford Choose Your Own Adventure Challenge. And despite the fact I don’t aspire to work my ass off for material possessions (I’m more content on acquiring memorable moments rather than things) I wasn’t shy about my love for all its shiny bells and whistles. This car was quite clearly like nothing else I have ever driven. And I was unashamedly a little in love.
To be frank, I put my heart and soul into blogging about it. When I drafted my first post I sought support from a lovely little blogging network I am part of online, and the one bit of advice from Andrea of Fox in Flats that still sticks in my head today was how does it benefit me and my readers? You see, amid my excitement at having this gorgeous vehicle sitting in my driveway and being able to drive without worry of it breaking down or getting us from A to B safely, my self-doubt started to eat at me telling me I had to do this good. Real good. There were some seriously talented bloggers involved, the competition was without a doubt up there. (Check out the video in this post by Milk Please Mum – brilliantly creative!)
Kelly Exeter (my writing mentor) also added that when writing, we should stick to our own experiences, how it makes us feel. Makes sense given this was my own journey. Edit after edit I stuck to that very mantra, I wrote about how the car made me feel. I over share by nature, I tell you with excitement if I enjoy something so I was never going to tone that part of my voice down. But I was very careful to not slip into ‘brochure speak’ (thanks Kelly) and kept writing true to myself. So when the challenge was over and I had done my absolute best while having fun and enjoying the challenge rather than worrying about it, I just sat back and watched. I watched some other amazingly creative videos, and I can truthfully say I didn’t think that my photos and writing would stand out enough against some of the others. Self-doubt is a bitch of a thing, but I am also humble enough to know that the group of people I was included in are some of Australia’s most prominent story tellers.
If anything has come from this (aside from the fact I now have the Sexy Beast for an entire year, THANKS FORD) it is that no matter how much I think I might know about how my creative work will be perceived, I really have no idea. Sometimes an image or piece of writing I think will attract some attention doesn’t, and other times something I don’t think is my best work gets the attention. Creative work is so subjective, and what I think of a piece isn’t always going to hold the same value in the eyes of another. Don’t get me wrong, I poured my heart and soul into the Ford challenge. I knew it was my absolute best work, I was never going to not win through lack of effort. But up against 19 other bloggers I wasn’t overly confident I would stand out most.
When Ford announced my name that night, I think I went into shock. I can’t remember what I said on stage when I received my gorgeous trophy (although I take comfort in the fact I don’t think the microphone was even turned on). I do remember getting off stage and walking to the back of the room to pinch myself, I still do. Being in a room filled with some of my blogging idols and people I have looked up to for the better part of the past two years was a highlight in itself, to win this challenge was out of this world.
So next time you work your ass off on something, my advice is don’t sell yourself short on your efforts. Don’t doubt that you at least stand a chance to be recognised or rewarded for your effort. You just don’t know what someone else sees when they look at your work, and chances are someone out there will just love it. I still don’t quite know what Ford recognised most in my three posts as reason for me to win the challenge, I am of course a bit curious. But the one thing I do know is if you stick to your own voice when you write and photograph the world as you see it through your own eyes, you can’t go wrong. At the very least you are being true to yourself, and that is what makes one artist stand out from the next.
Watch the Voices of 2013 final awards night wrap up here:
A massive dose of love and appreciation to Andrea, Kelly, Naomi, Lisa, Cherie and Jess for listening to me self-doubting in our lovely little forum and for giving me a gentle nudge in the right direction. And of course a huge thank you to Ford Australia and Kidspot, you guys are RAD!