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The Ohioana Awards

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rare, never-to-be repeated photo of an artist/naturalist speaking at the Ohio State House.

On October 18, 2008, I gratefully accepted a citation from the Ohioana Library Association for
"Distinguished Service to Ohio in the Fields of Art, Writing and Commentary." The OLA honors Ohio writers and creative artists for their contributions, and maintains a huge library of works executed by Ohioans. We are busy people out here in Ohio. The awards ceremony was in the State House, and our former governor, Bob Taft, and his wife were there, and there were lots of gifted artists and writers and poets there. Bit of advice: Try not to get up at a podium after a poet has said his artfully humble and mercifully brief thank-you. It makes you, Ms. Overkill, feel like popping a verbal Immodium. However. I wanted you, my faithful readers, to know that you, and this strange little forum we enjoy, were at the forefront of my thoughts as I wrote and re-wrote and then re-wrote and still fretted over my acceptance homily. They told me to keep it to 30 seconds, one or two minutes at the most, but I couldn't. It came in at 2:50. Here it is:

I don’t know about you, but I get most of my celebrity news in the grocery line, while waiting for the cashier to look up “Bok Choi” on the produce list. While doing this, I’ve found out that three celebrities share my birth year: Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Prince. As I stand here, I feel certain that, this generous Ohioana citation aside, Madonna and Michael Jackson** need have no concern that I will eclipse their celebrity. Prince is an interesting one, though. He looked at the deals the record companies were offering and walked away from the crossroads. He produces, publishes and distributes his music from his own recording studio in Minneapolis, and by all accounts he’s doing just fine.

These are exciting times to be a writer. Rumors of writing’s demise, I think, were premature. Writing is very much alive; I’d submit that it’s healthier than ever. Let’s face it: Most of us spend many waking hours reading off a computer screen. It’s easy now both to find and circulate good contemporary writing. The Internet has created brand new forums for it; instant exchange of pieces that touch something in us. It’s as though the blood of creativity has found new vessels, and a writer, or for that matter, a musician, painter, photographer—any creative artist-- can find a targeted audience with vastly greater speed and efficiency than has ever been possible before.

Although the word “blog” sounds like something you’d find stuck to the bottom of your shoe, after stumbling into blogging, I’m a true believer. I’ve kept one for three years, and more than 21,000 unique readers visit each month. The number grows by about 1,000 a month. Serving up good content five days a week is a big commitment—but it’s like having your own small magazine. You control the content, graphics, the creative direction. And it really gets interesting when you hear from 40 or 50 readers, exchange ideas, and allow them to expand your horizons.

Writers need to write, I think, and write every day, whether it’s an essay or a footnoted treatise; a haiku or a blog post. The writing muscles need to move, even if the back gets stiff and the tailbone gets sore. The odd thing about writing every day is that you don’t run out of ideas; you beget more, just by writing.

William Thackeray said, "There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write."

Thank you, Ohioana, for this honor. I thank my husband, Bill Thompson III, and his parents, Bill and Elsa Thompson, for first publishing my work in Bird Watcher’s Digest, begun in their Marietta living room and now celebrating its 30th year. I thank my agent, Russ Galen, and my editor, Lisa White, for making a book of Letters from Eden. I thank my editor Ellen Silva, Melissa Block and National Public Radio for believing that there’s something going on in Whipple, Ohio, that a national audience would like to hear. And I thank the online readers who are with me each day, who sometimes spit coffee on their computer screens when they open the blog. If they have to wipe their screens, I’ve done my job. Thank you.

End of remarks.

And thanks to Kerf for the pictures, for hanging out and making it all such fun.

**Madonna and Michael Jackson share my exact birthday and year. Shazaam. Could serial marriage, reclusive exhibitionism, a private amusement park, sexy personal trainers, a gaggle of nannies, surrogate parenthood, fabulous thighs, a creepy skin condition, repatriation to England, the cloud of pederasty, Kaballah, or a chimp named Bubbles be in my future, too?

I'll take the thighs.


Ohio is FORTUNATE to claim you! Congratulations!!


...and well deserved, I might add.

Congratulations Julie.
We thank you too.

LOVED IT! Second only to William Faulkner's acceptance speech at the Nobel prize ceremony, this speech hits the mark. A paean to writing.
And you most certainly deserve all the recognition that comes your way.

Indeed you are gifted and deserve applause, Julie. But, have I ever really thanked YOU? You do inspire, with every post I read here...

I remember hearing "Writers gotta write, like stars gotta shine." I'm still working on it :o)


Congratulations, Julie! You're very deserving. We are very fortunate and blessed to have you be in this area and to have your gifts and intellect shared with us every day. Thank you.

Marietta, Ohio

Congratulations Julie! You're very deserving of the award. We're very fortunate and blessed to have you in this area. Your intellect and writing gifts are very much appreciated.
Thank you,
Marietta, Ohio

Yay, Julie!

I have done extensive research, and it seems that OHIO holds the record for coolest people. AND coolest birders. It's a fact. Look it up.
: ) award that is deserved.

Librarians know who to honor!
Well-deserved! I learn so much from your blog. Lovely speech.

Congrats, Julie! It's a special pleasure to read what you share here. Thank you.

Congratulations and well deserved! You make me stand a little taller when I talk of my seven years in Ohio. And how cool is Ohio that they to gave a writer/naturalist that award! If I share a birthday with a hot latin (Antonio Banderas)that had an affair with your Madonna - does that make us more than blog buddies?

Congratulations on a well deserved honor, and on a well reasoned and well expressed defense of blogging.

Was Bill relieved you chose fabulous thighs over serial marriage?

Oh, thanks, TR, for making me wipe MY screen! Yes, Antonio, we do the verbal tango most every day, and we are more than blog buddies.

Wren, the fabulous thighs are securely in the realm of wishful thinking. Although there have been times in my life when a gaggle of nannies would have come in real handy, Madonna and His Supreme King-of-Pop Weirdness can keep everything else.

How wonderfully said (and written) Julie. Congratulations on being recognized as a writer who connects so well with people and who inspires each of us to love and appreciate the nature around us. :c)

...Oh, and I'd take the thighs too. :c)

Bravo! Bravo!

Congratulaitons, Julie! Your newest honor is so well deserved. You educated and inspired so many with your poetic voice. Thank you.

Congrats Julie on your much deserved recognition. You must know you are a great inspiration to many. Even though I don't always comment I always read your blog. I am so glad you "have" to write daily.

Way to go!
Congratulations on this great honor!
Very thoughtful almost 3 minute speech too!

Maybe Bubbles the Science chimp ...

Congratulations -- there really should be more naturalists in state houses.

Congratulations Julie! I so appreciate that you choose to exercise your writing muscles with such frequency in this blog. It's informative, entertaining, and undoubtedly more personal than a book could be (in my opinion). I first started visiting your blog over a year ago after I purchased Ora Anderson's book "Out of the Woods" and was entranced by your illustrations for that book. Around the same time I heard one of your commentaries on NPR, and it was around that time that it sunk in that you lived right here in Ohio! A celebrity in our midst, in SEOhio of all places! You have my heartfelt thanks for representing us so well. I look forward to many more years of your work, both in print and in cyberspace.

How very cool! Congratulations Julie!
so I'm sitting here and getting tears in my eyes as I read your speech and wondering--is it difficult to give a speech like that and not get all choked up? I believe I would be overwhelmed if I were ever to receive a huge honor like that.

You look so natural at the podium in the State House. Perhaps you might want to launch a political career. You've already got a sound base.

There’s entirely too much congratulatory verbiage in these comments.
I may heave my morning nutrition and caffeinated beverage due to the sacrine nature of said commentary.

I am concerned that the librarians have a hidden agenda behind the award. According to my research, it appears they have a vested interest in having a plentitude of books in print in order to shield their employment in these harsh economic times.

I may be over reacting, as I am certain they have rules and regulations and, we all know:

Librarians do it by the book.

Congratulations on your big day! Those moments are important milestones. It will mean more and more as time passes.

Congratulations, Julie - it's well deserved. And to Rondeau Ric, as a librarian I am pleased to see you said (tongue in cheek) that librarians "do it by the book" - so thank you! ;o)

You are welcome mary c.


Sorry to miss this event, though I am pleased to have been your nominator.

This might be the best, most interesting acceptance speech ever written.

And I can speak authoritative because I am a editor.

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