Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Today I'm looking at validation.
Some writers, feeling loftier than others, will claim the writing is validation enough. They don't feel the need for others to support. believe in, or worship (ok, a bit much ;)) their work. They are "artists". (Their words, not mine.) To them I raise a pint of Smithwicks and say, "Carry on!".
Hey, if it's working for them, great! Power forth and what not.
Now, for the rest of us.....
Validation is part of the human mindset for the vast majority of people- we're wired that way. Where we get that validation can vary by person and just what is being validated.
Narrow it down to writers and writing and our entire sense of self AS writers, and well you still have various forms. But let's face it, many of us see the traditional publishing world as the great validator.
Now we all receive little validators along the way. Folks we trust (and trust not to just say they love it because they love us ;)) telling us our work is good. Writing instructors, feedback at conferences, professional writers-- all saying, "Hey, you've got something." Getting to the point with your submissions to agents and editors where they are passing on your project for things other than skill (market, etc).
But that big one, the bright and shiny, "I'VE MADE IT", we believe comes from that NY pub (or any of the bigger independent presses) contract (you published authors, stop laughing).
However, the publishing world is changing so fast- too fast for NY it sometimes seems to me. Self-publishing (aka Indie) is calling me more and more. Both in feedback of what the market wants (when I see sales of books similar to mine, but they aren't the MAJOR best sellers NY wants), and things I hear from published authors about the dark under belly of contracts.
Self-publishing seems like a viable option when done right. But scary too. If I do need outside validation- where would I get it? Reader reviews? That way lies madness me thinks ;). Is it possible to be a happy, mentally healthy writer without traditional external validation?
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Hello, Marie. Chiming in here on a Wednesday AM before my writing day begins. Validation.... Writing the story and finishing it is a pretty good validation for me - and knowing I did it well according to my own standards. That's Creative satisfaction. The business side is another matter.ReplyDelete
I'm both traditionally published, with a current contract, and Indie published with a few novellas, and I still feel that being traditionally published was the cream for me since it's so hard to get that foot in the door, and it's becoming harder every day. This doesn't always have to speak to the quality of Trad Pub'd books in general, necessarily, but to the fact that an editor who buys books on a regular basis thinks so, and is willing to take a chance on YOU by offering a check and putting your book on the shelf. (Pretty good business side validation).
There are millions of self-published books being released every month, probably, and some of mine are among them. But it's really difficult to stand out in that crowded space. Today, everyone is an author with a book online. So, I think that if just finishing a book and seeing it for sale somewhere is validation enough - great. I like that, and lots and lots of writers are doing it, including me. For me, though, that wouldn't have been quite enough in the beginning, in terms of jump starting a writing career.
I like the distinction you made, Linda. I hadn't thought about it, but yes there are different levels or types of validation. I do feel good when I read part of one of my books and for a moment I think, "damn that was GOOD!"Delete
Thanks for coming by and sharing :)
Validation? I believe we all need it in one form or another. Finishing your first novel, having an agent or editor say, "Hey you've got something, send me your manuscript," or a great review are all the things that keep us moving forward. From one manuscript to another we move forward and keep on writing. At least this author has. After having several offers on the table, each one with their own idea how my series should be written, I gambled and made the decision to self publish. Since then my validation has come from the reviews. I gave myself one year to see what happened. If things didn't work out for me I could always pull the first book and begin all over again. Sales continued to increase. I received reviews from both professionals and independent readers who to this day, continue to spur me on. Three books in my pnr series have since been released with the forth looking for its debut in the Spring. Oh, I still want that big time contract from N.Y. but in the mean time I am working towards building my name. Like so many other authors I have more than one series in the works, those I continue to submit and pitch along the way with my fingers crossed.ReplyDelete
Validation - something we all need in one form or another. Thanks for writing this. It too is its only validation, inspiring authors, like myself there is more than one way to accomplish the task of writing and publishing.
Thank you for sharing your story, Virginia! It sounds like you are really on a roll and found your path.Delete
Validation is important to all of us I feel, even if we don't want to admit it. There was a time, many decades ago, when I felt trad publication was the icing on the cake. But now I am retired and finally been published by a small press, the reviews have become my validation - and also recognition by those I look up to in the world that I used to work in, the international horse riders. I no longer dream of being a celebrated order, but I would love an Olympic rider to say my novel works. Think as others have said that it all comes down to where you are in your career.ReplyDelete
Thank you for coming by, Roland. You've made some good points, where the validation comes from is important- it needs to have meaning for us personally.Delete
Ah, the whole validation thing is difficult, especially as the publishing climate is changing. For trad publishing, I think most of your validation (at least at first) comes from having an agent and/or an editor.ReplyDelete
But with self-publishing, it seems like you might have to wait longer for validation, because it would come from your sales figures and your readers.
Although I'm still pursuing trad publishing, I'm so glad there are more options now.
Agreed, Jenni! Even though I'm still leaning towards traditional pub...that siren of self- pub is calling me. I guess I'd just need to beef up my self-validation for that though ;). Thanks for coming by!Delete
Validation - a slippery, narrow path egos tread - on one side is a vast sea of quicksand made up of the kind comments others use to try to make us happy and on the other side a dark, dense forest of critisisms from superior people interested only in the sound of their voices (or the beauty of their written words) who have no real interest in helping us find our way. Below our feet, terrible story ideas, clueless sentence structure, feeble plot lines and a abundance of useless subplots clutter the path threatening to trip us up as we journey on, our completed novel strapped to our backs in packs too light for some to consider, too heavy for others. Is it any wonder why we are insecure? Thankfully, sometimes from above shines down the light of true mentors. A beacon that brightens our way and keeps us moving forward.ReplyDelete
Good post, Marie,
LOL! You paint such a dark picture Sharon! But very well written ;). I agree, if we have people around us who help us keep our heads up-it does help against the evils of our chosen profession :).Delete
Thanks for coming by and commenting!
I know that healthy, happy persons are supposed to be secure in themselves not to need validation from others. However, I think that writers can be pretty insecure when it comes to putting our babies out for the world to read and judge. So if you're a person who is confident and celebrates the small victories, such as with the completion of each scene, then that may be validation enough. But in general, writers tend to want to please their audience, so validation comes from good reviews, book sales, and other positive feedback. Personal validation can come with a supportive spouse or familywho believes in you and your writing. That goes a long way towards having confidence and putting yourself out there.
I agree, Julie, and honestly, I don't know anyone writer or not who completely survives on internal validation. But it's a goal! :). I am lucky to have people who believe in me, but I do think I need to work on a bit more internal acceptance.Delete
Thanks for coming by and commenting!
When I started writing full-time about five years ago, I told myself when I stopped learning new things about the craft, I would stop writing. Hasn't happened yet.
To me writing is for entertainment, not just mine, but hopefully some readers out there who want to be swept away by adventure. As a writer of eBooks, I tell myself I need faith that some day an audience will appear. Except for the very lucky authors, publishers tell me building an audience might take two years. So be it. Now all I need is faith and an imaginative mind to start on my next project.
I love your spirit, Susan! I think you're doing just fine :).Delete
Thanks for coming by and commenting!
We are trained by society/culture to accomplish something instead of celebrating the process. People call themselves aspiring writers. That means they want to write--not that they are actually writing. No, they ARE writers. Celebrate writing. If validation is necessary, set goals and celebrate reaching them.ReplyDelete
VERY well put, Diane! I think we all started writing because we loved to tell stories. It's too easy to forget that as we try to share those stories with others. But you're right- the joy should be in the process.Delete
Thank you for coming by and great comment!
I needed that, Diane! I should have said, So if you're a person who NEEDS confidence, THEN celebrate the small victories. Because that's what I need to do before I put anything out there. And I don't submit because I actually just write for myself.ReplyDelete