I was sitting in the ballroom of the Roosevelt Hotel in New York at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA). Regina Ryan, my agent, Ernest, my husband, Judy, my daughter, and Naomi, my granddaughter, surrounded me. My friend and colleague, Sally Wendkos Olds, mounted the podium and spoke:
“Suzanne Loebl has been a loyal, devoted, active member…She is not, however, getting this award for her extensive service to us, but on the strength of her impressive body of writing…
“The most recent of Suzanne’s 14 books, just published to glowing reviews, is America’s Medicis: The Rockefellers and Their Astonishing Cultural Legacy, which has resulted in speaking invitations for her around the country. Her other book about art is America’s Art Museums, which delves into the history and growth of 160 great museums…”
I had known since last winter that my friend Bonnie Remsberg had nominated me for ASJA’s 2012 Founder’s Career Achievement Award, the organization’s most prestigious honor. Among the reasons Bonnie gave of my worthiness was that I had learned to use my own experiences and translate them into compelling prose.
“Suzanne is a survivor of the Holocaust; she wrote a book about it,” Bonnie wrote to ASJA’s award committee, “She lost her beloved son David to the AIDS epidemic; she wrote a book about it. Her mother-in-law died of a fatal drug interaction. She spent five years writing The Nurse’s Drug Handbook, to teach nurses about drugs. The enormous (1,000-plus pages) book was an instant and huge success, its seven editions selling more than 350,000 copies…Decade after decade, she is still turning out publishable prose…she is an example to us all.”
Receiving this award was the biggest honor I have received so far. It was the culmination of years of hard and joyful work. Though I always knew that I wrote easily and well, I never conceived that I would become a professional writer, especially since English was not my first, or even my second language.
When I joined ASJA in 1975 we were all pecking away at our electric typewriters. At our meetings, we endlessly discussed the possibilities of these new-fangled computers! Today we try to understand how the ever-changing social media impacts our careers. Thank you, ASJA, for the award and for keeping me on my toes.