By Nichole Giles
This past weekend I had a great opportunity. And even though it was great—really truly amazing—I’m not actually talking about the LDStorymakers writer’s conference. My husband and I were privileged to attend the second annual Whitney Awards Ceremony.
These awards are unlike any other literary awards I’ve seen, mainly because they were created to honor LDS authors and their work.
The atmosphere was festive as excited nominees mingled with attendees, eating a delectable dinner and sharing predictions of who would take home the trophies at the end of the night.
Author Robison Wells, founder and idea-man behind the newly prestigious awards, created the Whitney’s in honor of the apostle, Elder Orson F. Whitney. During his life, Elder Whitney was active in the arts, and had a love of drama, music, poetry and writing. His first book, “The Life of Heber C. Kimball” was published in 1888, and his second, “Poetical Writings” in 1889. I think it’s safe to say he was one of the original LDS authors.
A much loved quote of his spurred many early LDS authors to further their craft, and continues to inspire us—even a hundred and twenty years later. Elder Whitney said, “We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. God's ammunition is not exhausted. His brightest spirits are held in reserve for the latter times. In God's name and by his help we will build up a literature whose top shall touch heaven, though its foundations may now be low in earth.”
And so we write, and aim for the sky with our work, all hoping to someday be worthy of a nomination for the awards named after such a prolific man as brother Whitney. And we honor those who had the foresight and creativity to create the Whitney Award Foundation, especially Robison Wells, who took a great idea and turned it into a reality that will be continued on by LDS authors for generations to come.
Sadly, Rob announced his resignation from the Whitney Committee as the ceremony wound down. Running a foundation of this magnitude must be overwhelming, and Rob can’t run things forever, so he has turned over the reins to Kerry Blair—and we know she’ll do it right. We future Whitney winners will forever be grateful to Rob and his vision of the future—of our future—and what we can aim to accomplish with our writing. We can, in fact, change the world. Or, at least the lives of some people in it.
We are the writers of the future—the Miltons and Shakespeares of today’s LDS literature. But I can’t end on that note. Instead, I’ll borrow more of Elder Whitney’s words,
“Let us onward, then, and upward, keeping the goal in view; living not in the dead past, nor for the dying present. The future is our field. Eternity is before us.”
(I’m thinking we could put those words to music…go authors, go authors, go authors, go.)
Now, get writing!