Village News columnist, Rick Gray, who has written an opinion piece for this newspaper for eight years has won second place in the Virginia Press Association opinion writing category for Style Weekly. Mr. Gray has been writing his monthly Style back page opinion for a number of years but this is the first time he has won for his opinion writing. He won first place opinion writing for the Village News in 2006 after beginning his column here in 2004.
“I’m not quite as excited about this award as I was about the first place I took for Village News pieces way back in 2004,” Mr. Gray said. “Style Weekly has a much bigger circulation, and it’s in a different category, but you never forget your first time. That first award was a validation.This is more like a confirmation that I haven’t entirely lost my touch.”
The award was for a submission consisting of three of seven columns Gray wrote for the Style’s Back Page last year.
“I don’t write for the professionals, other than my editors, Gray said after he won. “I write to persuade my readers. So it’s interesting to have a group of professionals read what I write, and decide it’s worthwhile.”
Gray said, “I didn’t choose the columns, but I’m happy that I did this well writing ‘outside the box.’ One piece was on the need for a progressive third party. Another presented an unusual constitutional argument that only individuals – not churches – are protected by the First Amendment. Neither of those columns fit well in today’s conventional, media-driven, left-right political discourse.
“The third piece I’m particularly proud of. It was a call for a serious debate on gun control, written within 48 hours after the massacre at Sandy Hook. I actually contacted Scott Bass, the editor, on Saturday – the day after their deadline. [He ran it] five days after the killings.”
Gray is currently studying directing Shakespearean plays in Staunton, Virginia, but he continues to pursue writing.
“Writing is an enormous challenge, every week,” He said. “But it’s the best way I know to sort out my various ideas and notions, and figure out what I really think.”
Gray’s career has consisted of being a lawyer, a political activist, a teacher, an assistant principal, an actor, and a few other things.
“But the more I write, the more I realize that writing is the best expression of who I was born to be, or am called to be.”
Here is the link to the VPA site: http://omnicontests4.com/gallery-searchresultdetail.aspx?gallery_id=11