Hello, Emmy!

So I was a little down about the Minnesota Book Awards. I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole award thing this week and had an interesting talk with my son, Joren. He runs his own business at The Pixel Lab and recently won an Emmy for his video work. I know, crazy right? So on one hand: he won an Emmy!! And there’s this crazy cool statue sitting on his desk. And it’s all gold and shiny and iconic. But on the other hand, it didn’t change anything. He still gets up each morning at 5:00 a.m. and sits in front of his computer screen and creates. He puts in ten and twelve hour days. Five days a week. Every week.


As an artist, he’s defined by his work, not awards. And he’s the only one who can complete that work. 

This week, in an effort to move on from the book awards blues, I made myself a daisy chain. It’s something I used to do when the kids were little. Make a colorful chain and pull one ring off each day: Only ten days left till summer vacation! There are 100 rings on my new chain. It’s made out of plain white paper. Each ring empty and white. It’s a symbolic thing: the empty page before me that needs to be filled.

Jill Kandel, daisy chain, So Many Africas, In-between Cultures

Each ring on my chain represents 1,000 words. So if I get a thousand words written, then I get to pull one ring off the chain. A thousand words is between three and four pages. It’s two to four good solid hours of uninterrupted writing. When I get to the end of my chain and all one hundred rings are pulled off, I will have approximately 100,000 words. Which is about 300 pages. Which is about book length.

Jill Kandel, daisychain, so many africas, In-between cultures

I know that some days will be measured by only a dozen words, and some by none at all. I know that some days I will take care of my mom, do banking, groceries, shovel the snow, bake bread, and go to Costco. But I also know that I want to focus on the writing. And give it the attention it needs.

chain, jill kandel, so many africas, in=between cultures

Yesterday was a two thousand word day. And I pulled the first two rings off my chain. Today my chain is only 98 rings. If there’s one thing I know about writing, it’s that it all adds up. One page after another. One hour after another. One more ring.

So to all the artists who’ve won awards, and not won awards, and are hoping for awards, just do your work. Because in the end that’s what defines you. It’s your creativity that really matters. You have no control over what awards will come or not come. All you can do, is to create. And isn’t that great to know? It takes the stress and pressure off. Do your work, and leave the rest up to the powers that be. Just do your work. And do it well. 

P.S. Joren’s Emmy came in a very cool gold and black box, all satin lined. On the bottom of the box it states that if Joren or his offspring don’t want to keep the Emmy, they have to return. It can’t be sold, or auctioned, or given away. So you’re not likely to find an Emmy floating around an estate sales. No reason to add this P.S., just thought it was a quirky unknown Emmy fact. Keep it or return it. Legally, you can’t give the thing away. Looks like Joren is stuck with it.

Jill Kandel
  • Gianna Anderson
    Posted at 18:13h, 02 February Reply

    Thank you for sharing this Jill. I think that you deserver all kinds of awards, even an Emmy. But I love the paper chain. A good reminder to just keep on keeping on.


    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 08:29h, 03 February Reply

      Thank you, Elisa. Yes, some day the only thing to do is to keep on going in the right direction.

  • Linda Carlson
    Posted at 20:07h, 02 February Reply

    Thanks for sharing the chain idea. Maybe I will have to try that.

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 08:30h, 03 February Reply

      It’s kind of fun, Linda. And a bit of a pat on the back. It helps to keep me on track.

  • Heather MacLaren Johnson
    Posted at 07:39h, 03 February Reply

    Awesome idea to give a tangible, visible sense of incremental accomplishment toward a goal! Thanks! I’m going to use this for my exercise goal also.

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 08:32h, 03 February Reply

      Heather! I love that idea. I guess you could use a daisy chain for any goal!

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