Are you a writer? If you answered in the affirmative, chances are that you’ve been asked these certain pissing off questions more than once:
“So what’s your REAL job?”
“You actually get money for that?”
“You must be from a rich family, right?”
Ouch! No wonder we seek validation in every nook and cranny. When non-writers make you feel so disrespected, it’s easy to feel like a nobody – like a failure. So it isn’t just the aspiring writer who suffers this way. I have more than a dozen titles on sale, articles and short stories in major publications, and so much more I could talk about with reference to my writing career BUT I still get asked such questions. Often, the person is actually unaware of how authors and freelance writers spend hours and days and months on projects. Most of them pick up books without ever considering the sweat and tears and precious time that goes into making each product. Yes, a book is a product at the end of the day.
Once you get used to answering the silly questions which nobody would ask a lawyer or engineer or software professional, the typical writer gets super focused on winning validation from the publishing industry. Literary agents. Publishers. We send e-mail after e-mail. We damage our fingers as we continue hitting the refresh option on our inbox. Sleepless nights of anxiety/prayers. Someone needs to give you a publishing contract to make you feel worthy. Or else, are you really a writer?
I say that you ARE. After I spent years praying/dreaming/tossing and turning in bed, I got a traditional publishing deal for TWO nonfiction books. The publisher was a global giant. I was on Cloud Nine. But you know what? My feeling of validation disappeared a month after my second book was launched. I went from feeling hopeful to worthy to unworthy all over again. My self-worth became tied to a document – to a brand.
A year of writing with no idea what was coming next included a dreadful experience where a person identifying herself as a literary agent, promised me a deal (on e-mail), sent me a draft contract and then stopped replying to me e-mails. I waited and waited. I didn’t sleep much as I waited. That high of getting another cool piece of document seemed nearby – until I decided to stop waiting for anyone or anything and be an authorpreneur.
While my reasons for self-publishing will go into another post, I can say that self-publishing my books has worked with me. It really depends on what kind of writing career you want for yourself. What kind of content you write, how many books you can write every year, and so on.
Back to the subject of validation. GUESS WHAT? You are still going to look for it. No matter how many readers buy your books and leave sweet reviews for you, it’ll never be enough. There will ALWAYS be another author with more books and more reviews and more fans. So you could end up feeling worthy, but not worthy ENOUGH.
I hope that makes sense.
All I want new writers and unhappy writers to know is that writing is a difficult career if you don’t put your foot down and say – “Hey, I’m enough for the readers who enjoy my books, no matter how small the number of readers is. More importantly, I am more than enough for myself.”
We are writers because we love to write. Keep writing and don’t fall into the trap of comparison. It kills. Don’t stress yourself out looking for external approval. You be you and it will show in your writing and THAT is how we connect with the right readers 🙂