Never in a million years. That’s what I thought when we applied for this thing a year ago. A pipe dream. You apply for it for the same reason you apply for Ivy League colleges, the Green Card lottery, or Oscar-qualifying film festivals. It’s not actually about achievingthe summit of those anthemic heights. It’s about being able to go to sleep at night telling yourself you tried. I like sleeping. Relishing the mundane is more important than making your pipe dreams. It’s the trying of it that’s the thing. 

We applied for this award, the most prestigious literary award that isn’t national, because why not. Yes, we’re the scrappy underdog book applying for something that usually only goes to authors with major New York publishing deals. 

But isn’t that what underdogs do? 

We applied, designer Tom and I, and then we forgot about it and went about enjoying our daily lives. I carried on with driving and writing, writing and filming, filming and photographing… and somehow, here we are. I woke up to an email that went directly to my spam folder. And why wouldn’t it, with lines like “You’ve been selected…” “We’re delighted to inform you…” The very same happened when Seattle Magazinenamed me one of their 35 Most Influential People: “You’ve been chosen…” Ah, spam. The folder with either the least… and some of the most life-changing missives I receive.

What can I say here, now, that I haven’t said here (Wall of Fame), here (Seattle Mag), here (book talk), here (film crew), here (birthday), here (SAM tour), here (darkroom show) and elsewhere, when enormous accolades have been thrown my way, and all I can do is blush? You know I’m no good at this sort of thing. I’m good at writing about incredible things happening to me that I may or may not deserve, but I’m no good at actually receiving them. I’m better at just driving around in a city bus…

I bow in gratitude to every judge, every twist and stroke of fate, to designer Tom and editor Jacqueline. I bow in gratitude not simply for the sake of the book and I, but because a vote for this book is more crucially a vote for a particular way of seeing. Of thinking about people. Of treating them a certain way, taking care and compassion. 

Contemporary politics would have us believe empathy is dead. The incredible support this lil’ book of mine keeps getting, topped off (so far!) by today’s announcement, stands as the perfect rejoinder. That’s why this matters. To get to take part in such a statement, to reinforce the existence and value of kindness in our age, is profoundly humbling. All of which is to say–

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: Thank you.

More about the Award and its other finalists here.

Purchase the book online from Elliott Bay Books, here or from Third Place Books, hereNo, it isn’t available on Amazon. If you’re a local bookstore, owner of any sort of mom’n’pop store or other small business, pay rent in Seattle, or are homeless, you don’t need me to explain why…. 

We’ve sold through three print runs in record time without needing to go there. We’ve been a consistent top 5 bestseller in the city’s largest independent bookstore for months because we haven’t gone there. Supporting the little guys just feels better, doesn’t it? 

I am hugely grateful the demand for this book has been so high that we’ve been able to afford taking this route. We’ll stay this course as long as we are able, and/or until the book shifts ownership. So, again: Thank you all!

More about the book, including a KING 5 interview with yours truly and more purchase locations, here

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Nathan Vass has had work displayed in over twenty photography shows, designed a book and three album covers, including two for Neil Welch. His “My Favorite Things” tour at Seattle Art Museum was the highest-attended such tour there. Nathan is also the director of eight films, four of which have shown at festivals, and one of which premiered at Henry Art Gallery. He owns a photography business, Two Photography, with Larry Huang, and has photographed a dozen-plus weddings. Born in South Central LA, he holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Washington, and is also a prolific writer and sometime painter. Formerly a Hollywood resident, he still contributes film reviews to Erik Samdahl's site, Filmjabber. In addition, he holds a side job as a public bus driver, which he enjoys almost as much as directing films- if not slightly more so! He is a two-time winner of Metro’s Operator of the Month award and holds a record number of commendations.

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