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A public service issue from the Secretary-Treasurer

I am feeling a sense of noblesse oblige, brought on by a reading of the NAPA constitution. Admittedly there is more dullness than virtue in such reading, and such virtue as there is, is of necessity. I first read the sections pertaining to my job so I would know what was expected of me. Then I got nosy and read what other officers were supposed to do. After that I finished off by reading what the obligations of the general membership were. And I still wish more of them would take note of the month their dues are due as shown on the address label of the bundle, and send them to me without being reminded thereof.

But to get back to the noblesse oblige bit. It comes in as a sense of obligation to share with others what I have learned. Or maybe it’s simply a case of misery loving to force its company on others. At any rate, I wish to present what the constitution says and does not say on the subject of laureates. The former takes less time, so it will be dealt with first.

A laureate award is presented at the annual convention for the entry published during the preceding 12 months and judged best of those submitted in each of seven categories: art, editing, fiction, history of amateur journalism, miscellaneous prose, poetry, printing. Honorable mention goes to the second best item. Entries must have been distributed to at least 100 NAPA members. Judges are appointed by the President. A copy of the paper(s) containing the entry, with item and category marked, must be in the hands of the Recorder by May 31st. What happens after that is the worry of the Recorder, the President and the judges, although the contestants can worry a bit about how their brainchild is fairing.

What steams the glasses (on the nose and in the hand) of convention attendees is the problem of getting members to submit their work. There are two reasons. (1) Unless there are at least three entries in a category, it is eliminated. (2) The more entries in a category, the more the laureate means. The constitution does direct the Bureau of Critics to recommend, and the Recorder to solicit, entries. Ultimately, however, it is the writer or publisher or printer who must submit his own work. Modesty, indifference, inertia all help to cut a mountain of available material down to a molehill. Members can help by submitting their efforts without being asked, or when they are asked. They can help by urging others to enter work they deem worthy, or by offering to make such entries for them with their consent. Consent there must be.

The convention discussed the matter of consent. It is heartening to learn that in an age when you are forced to listen to piped in music, have your favorite TV programs preempted by sportcasts, and must smell other people’s cigars, the convention preferred to continue persuasion rather than resort to coercion. The amendments proposed seek only to change laureate deadlines, thus making work easier for those involved. The member retains his right to be or not to be a participant.

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To continue with the noblesse oblige-ing, the Walrus offered to cite examples of what might be entered in various categories. It is questionable how much he knows about some of them, but every time he’s wrong it will give someone else something to refute.

Art. This is decorative work designed and executed by a member. Bill Boys’ Marietta Makeready heading on the convention papers and cover of the Sept. NA looks like a winner to me.

Editing. To qualify here, you have to show you can pick out and lay out material. You should also have an editorial policy which I think means you say why you are publishing what you do and you stick with that for at least the two issues you have to submit. If you have different policies and layouts, put out several papers with different names, enter two issues of each and compete with yourself. The constitution does not say you cannot do that.

Fiction. This is a hard category to define. There was a time when it meant a story with a beginning and an end and characters doing something. The ending might be a foregone conclusion, but at least there was diversity in reaching it. What you get mostly now is some nut or a collection of nuts suffering emotions and maybe moving around enough to get in or out of bed or a series of beds. There is no climax, no conclusion, and no particular reason why the characterless characters should emote and climb in and out. This is supposed to be life, and it may well be since it is about as exciting as life usually is. If you write either the past or present style, enter it as fiction.

History of Amateur Journalism. Write about anybody or anything that helped shape the hobby. The Fossil and the National Amateur carry a lot of this material, but there is some in private papers.

Miscellaneous Prose. Herein is dumped all prose except fiction and history. It can be about anything and assume any form. That makes it almost human.

Poetry and Printing, unfortunately, will have to be passed by, as the Walrus penned 16 lines on those two subjects and those 16 lines just cannot be squeezed into 4 lines.

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The above example of extremely miscellaneous prose is submitted by Louise Lincoln and A. Walrus of Tucson, Arizona 85710

Printed by Alf Babcock

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