I will admit, it is one of the hardest things to accept when honors and awards are bestowed on you. It would be even harder to be humble if I was receiving many of these a year…but I’m not. So when I say I’m awestruck and very happy to have these awards given to me, it’s partly the tradition and the personal accomplishments.

I really do appreciate it. Thank you.

Since one of the honors is given to me for statewide support for my peers across 22 branches of the California Writers Club, I’ll be splashed across the front page of The Bulletin, our digital news magazine– partly because I’m the producer of the publication, and I won the lifetime achievement named for Ina Coolbrith. She was the first California Librarian and state poet laureate, as well as a mentor to Jack London. The Ina Coolbrith Award is given for exemplary support to the state membership and /or the Central Board that manages our club since 1909.

The second award I’ll be receiving in October is the Jack London Award given by my peers in the High Desert branch of CWC. I created some of the content and produced The Inkslinger (our monthly newsletter) for ten years. I recently stepped down from that duty, giving myself more time to my own writing projects. As our current Vice President Mike Apodaca commented as he took over the reins, “It’s a labor of love, and I’m just now seeing how much time is needed to produce it. Rusty has made it look easy.”

I’ve also split my time with creating poetry and having it critiqued in our sub-group of quality poets in Poemsmiths, having grown from a salon meeting/workshop to a full-fledged spin-off organization with a new anthology coming out soon. Each poet is honestly breaking ground with their own contest winning creations. We experiment with new forms and share our views as well.

I also was determined to bring back the adult division of poetry writing at our San Bernardino County Fair. It seemed that over the years the division had lost adult entries…and with that they lost sponsors. So I asked our branch board to bolster the contest and recruited new poets to come forward. It worked and we gained more interest throughout the community. Some of our Poemsmiths won as well. Congrats to them.

As I’ve said repeatedly here and other websites, it pays to stay active in your circle of friends, your community, your peers, and professional connections outside of your area. I may not be a big fan of social media, but it is what works today. Keeping your head above the choppy seas of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others takes more work, too.

Your craft can become your asset in so many ways. I’m thankful to have a strong circle of peers.


[article inset reprinted from Fremont Area Writers, a CWC branch, and Nancy Guarnera, their editor]

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