Check it out: a writing award! From the Society of American Travel Writers. A welcome surprise, especially since I've written very few travel pieces. But if there was a story that deserved an award, I suppose, it would be this one, about a journey to make sense of the multi-dimensional sensory overload that is Japan. The piece appeared in the sadly defunct Culture + Travel, a magazine with oversized pages, fancy production, good intentions, and really bad timing. Entering the market as print's fortunes started failing, Culture + Travel sought to publish lengthy narrative writing of the kind scarcely seen in the mega glossies anymore. For example, they gave me 5,000 words to wander through Japan, and although it could have been even longer (as all writers must say), no one else could have run that piece. Kate Sekules, the magazine's brave editor, knew that full well, which only made her back it more. And her instincts were rewarded. And mine too, I guess! Here's what the committee had to say about "Stuffu Happens":
... a wonderfully written account of the exotic spirit and art of Japan. The lead states it perfectly: “There are two Japans in the minds of most visitors: the ultra-modern technotopia of Tokyo and the ancient, ritualistic island of peculiar traditions that tourists believe must be hidden somewhere beneath all that neon.” For anyone thinking about visiting the Land of the Rising Sun to see its wealth of art, “Stuffu” is a must and joyful read.
That really made my day. Since the piece is nowhere to be found online, here it is as a PDF for any interested parties.