Deep down I think we all seek some type of validation. It could be with a loved one, in our careers, and in our friendship. It can also be with parking. We all need it. I have a confession though, I self doubt a lot. That is to say that I am constantly needing validation that my choices are the right ones. This is true of my writing career as well.
But I think writers are a group that need a special type of validation. There are a lot of people out there that want to be writers. There are even a lot of people out there who say they are writers and really don’t know what they mean when they say that. But deep down we writers want to be validated as authors. Unfortunately validation doesn’t always come.
So at what point are you valid in claiming you are an author. Well, that is a bar that we set for ourselves. Some set the bar really high, claiming they can only be an author when they get that first professional sale. Some claim that they can be called an author simply because they say they are.
But what really validates the claim to that title of author? Well for me it is the recognition of my peers, my readers, and friends.
Last year I felt really good when I took 2nd place in the science fiction and fantasy short story category of the 2011 Preditors and Editors readers poll for “Death Watch”. I felt even better at all the nice comments I received. I even felt validated as a short story author. The sale of my first two short stories in a matter of months helped a lot, but being recognized in that poll was special to me.
But what I really wanted to do was sell novels. So in 2012, I didn’t work on many short story projects. I put my work towards publishing my first novel, and I did it. My goal was to get a lot of new readers, and I did that. My goal was to get a lot of reviews and praise, but that has not really happened. I’ve had 8 reviews on Amazon US and 2 on UK. Don’t get me wrong, I am very pleased with those reviews. But one of my roll models, the person that inspired me to get Dissolution of Peace out, seemed to get a lot of reviews very quickly. Even a lot of editorial reviews (of which I’ve only had two). It is my opinion that he made a big splash in the Horror scene, while I seem to have made only a slight ripple (like a pebble dropped into the ocean) in the Sci-Fi scene.
So, I started to question the validity of my claim to be a novelist. Some of my role models in the independent scene, including the person above, have not even shared (to my knowledge) the work I have done. I think perhaps I expected too much from those I thought would return the favor. But the point is that I began to question if I was any good at what I was setting out to do. This is that self doubt I was talking about.
The problem not feeling validated, is that you tend to slump. And I did a significant slump. But then the readers poll came around again. I was nominated for best Science Fiction and Fantasy novel. There were also 85 other novels nominated. In the end I took another top ten finish, coming in 5th for the 2012 poll.
There were some great comments in there too. I take great pride in how much people love my work and my characters. I was ecstatic to see some of these things, they mean a lot to me.
I think the important thing that this post should point out. If you are a reader, like I am, you need to set out to review ALL the books you read but especially the ones you enjoyed. You need to make sure to share that with everyone. Because if you want to see writers continue to write, they need to feel validated. And for many of us, your reviews, purchases, and kind comments validates our purpose. I think this is more important than a professional sale, and or even a large book deal, though those all help. After all, it isn’t about who publishes what we write, but about who enjoys what we write.
So to those who continue to buy my books, vote for my books, comment on my books, review my books, and share my stories: I thank you. You fuel my my writing career and make it that much more likely that I will someday reach all my writing goals.
As for the parking, I think I will just pay for it. That is a validation that can be impossible to get.