Woes of a Validation Whore

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“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.”
– Mark Twain

I like validation, most people do, but I find that without the validation of others I have trouble believing something about myself to be true. I was a good student. I know this because I got As and Bs, and the teachers liked me–validation from authority.

I have written a book, but I feel like a fraud calling myself an author because I don’t have validation from anyone in authority. My editor Kilian would like to object to this she is very validating and apparently an authority figure 🙂 She is awesome and is one of my biggest cheerleaders. My book will be published soon, but it’ll be self published, so of course it’s “not as good as a published book”. I don’t feel I can say that I’m an author, and I doubt that will change even when I am holding the book in my hands.

So how do we validate ourselves? Where do we draw the line to reach before we can say that we are good enough at something? Or do we always qualify it, with “but I’m self taught?” Or “self published?” Or “I’ve had no formal training?” Or whatever excuse we come up with.

If we can’t believe in ourselves, how do we expect anyone else to take us seriously? Do we really need some else to approve of us? There are published authors’ work that I don’t care for, and people who have written fan fiction that is so good I have read it multiple times.

What are you afraid to claim you are good at? If someone asked you what you do or who you are, what do you really want to say but are afraid too? If you worked past this insecurity how did you do it? Or did you just fake it until you were comfortable?

Taylor Mali on Speaking with conviction

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32 responses »

  1. I know where you’re coming from with the validation issue and the whole “am I a real author if I self-publish” question. Don’t worry, you ARE! Or maybe I should say you’re as much a real author as you belive yourself to be. I think I came to that conclusion after A) reading some truly awful books that had managed to be published traditionally and B) hearing about how a former classmate of mine was able to be published because of all her contacts in the publishing world. Publishing is as much a game as anything else. I think self-publishers just choose not to jump through other people’s hoops.

    And I totally look forward to reading your book! =D

    • Thanks Merry! It’s true, I would say the same to anyone else, if you’ve written a book- or even trying to- you’re a writer. Isn’t it interesting how much better we treat everyone else.
      There are some really bad books out there from all formats. Hey if Snookie can call herself a writer so can I LOL!

  2. Great post! I think I need a lesson from you in how to title posts. Also, I think you bring up a good point. I think part of it has to do with our lack of self esteem and self worth as a culture (American) because our society equates self worth with net worth. People are defined by what they do and what they have. So if we aren’t super rich and perfectly thin we discredit ourselves. You see it so much in compliments. It seems we just can’t say thank you. We try to turn away all compliments with, “This old thing?” or “Oh, I look terrible.” That is the same for career dreams. Unless we are on the NYT best-seller list we may feel like we are not good enough to call ourselves writers. And even those folks probably have the same issues, maybe just on a larger scale because they have farther to drop. Maybe if we can work on self love and acceptance based on nothing other than ourselves, we can all have a little more confidence. Youwrite, you are a writer. You’re book is being bound and sold, you are an author. You can call yourself and author/publishing whore, if that’s easier to say! Heehee

    • Emma- I just started with the fun title- like today. I realized in tweets that’s what catches my attention, so I’m playing with it- this one sure worked. I wonder how often I can get away with using whore in a title before people get bored of it. LOL!
      Author/publishing whore- I like it. It’ true I would tell anyone else in my position that they are an author. Why are we so hard on ourselves? Thank you so much Emma!

  3. Validation from our peers and people in the industry is important to most writers, but our self-esteem and happiness can’t be based on it. When people ask me what I do, my stomach still tightens up and I always pause for a second, then I smile and say, “I’m an author.” If they ask questions and seem genuinely interested, I hand them a business card.

    Am I published yet? No. Then why do I do it? I believe in my ability and I believe I will be published. I must respect who I am and what I do or no one else will. I say own it and share it with the world.

  4. Great post. I would love to offer words of encouragement, but I have the same issue. A new agent tweeted recently that if 10 critics like a book, he believes half. If 100,000 like a book, he still only believes half, but that’s a bigger number,so half is good.

    If you write a book, you are an author. Whether or not we are good authors only history can tell.

    What clogs up the works is the vast number of “failed authors” who as masquerading as “Indie Publishers” rather than learning to write well, and staying out of the way until they do. (sigh)

  5. Lol. Love the video.

    When my daughter was four, she and a friend were tip-toeing around the living room with their arms over their heads. Her friend asked, “Do you want to be a dancer when you grow up?”

    My daughter said, “I AM a dancer.”

    I studied, taught, and performed bellydance for over 25 years. My most talented students rarely became pros because they had no commitment or ability to work hard. Some of my hardest workers became decent dancers, but could not go pro for lack of natural talent. But the two things all pros had in common was hard work and attitude.

    I knew brilliant dancers who never made it as pros, languishing in the sidelines as other, less accomplished women held the spotlight, all because they never decided they were dancers. I always told them, “You are a dancer when you decide you are a dancer.”

    My daughter is thirteen now. She does not dance, but in everything she does, she is a dancer. It’s about who you are.

    Do you write every day? Do you write when no one’s looking? Do you write because life makes no sense if you don’t? If your answer is yes, then you are a writer. An author. It’s just a fact, like your height or your hair color. It’s just who you are.

    The question here is not if you are an author. The question is if you choose to own who you are.

    Thanks for a great blog.

    All the best,
    Piper

    • Piper- thank you so much! I use to take belly dance- miss it and now my daughter wants to take classes.I’ll have t find some.
      You’re right I need to own who I am and what I do. I am an author. It’s who I am even if I never make a single penny from it. Thank you for the clarity and focus!

  6. I can relate to you on the self-publishing, yet I think you’ll be surprised. There is something about holding your print book that does make it seem more real. I was epublished by an epress years before ebooks took off and sold hardly anything. I never felt “published” even though someone else thought my book was good enough to publish. For me, it’s the sales, even though mine aren’t big. Having people tell me they enjoyed the book and are waiting on the next one is great validation, self- published or not! Finding out my local library bought nine copies was great, too! So don’t worry, that validation will come. Good luck with your release!

  7. Great post, Alica! I know exactly what you mean. I will soon be e-published and I can’t get past the fact that I won’t be traditionally published or that I’ll actually hold my book in my hands. Somehow that diminishes me and I’m not as good as those “real authors”. But, I feel comfortable saying I’m a writer and an author but I always qualify it with the fact my book is an e-book.
    Patti

    • Congratulation on getting published. I bet once you start getting great reviews you’ll feel like an author- I know you already are one. You should check out Piper’s comment- it puts everything into perspective.

  8. I’m not in either pool as far as the author goes yet, but I totally understand not feeling validated. I am often afraid to speak up when people ask me what I do. It’s the simple fear that I’m not good enough. 😦

  9. I’ve never thought about validation before, but you are absolutely correct. In one way or another, is some sort of aspect, we all search for validation. I will never understand why other’s approval is so vital to the things I write. Yet, with each word, each page, each blog I search for it. For some reason I think it will validate the choices I have made. A very thought provoking blog, Alica.

  10. Silly rabbit, you’re not a validation whore, you’re just a normal human being. We all have insecure areas where we don’t trust our own judgement and look to others for some support. Imagine what kind of megalomaniac people we would be if were were convinced we were always right. I doubt that Hitler sat up nights worrying that he wasn’t a *real* Fuhrer, and look what happened to him. You wrote a book. You even finished and revised that book. That makes you a *real* writer and author. The fact that it happens to be a good book is just frosting on the cake.

  11. I don’t run around the viritual world looking for validation for my writing. (Though I have gotten a few good reviews).

    I do point out things I’ve done to my husband so he’ll acknowledge my work around the house.

  12. Great post, Alica! I find it hard to say “I’m a good _____,” too. I can say I believe in my work…my writing…my novel… And “I make a mean batch of cookies,” rather than “I’m good at baking.”

    You’ve completed a novel, thus you ARE an author! (Author is past-tense, I believe: I wrote something…Writer means you write. In other words, you’re both. ;)) That’s a huge accomplishment in itself. And thank goodness you have that terrific editor to assure you. Is it sad that we need validation? To a point. Regardless, cheerleaders rule!

  13. Alicia-
    great post! You know you are a fantastic writer! One thing that helped me to decide on e pub and self pub was when I finally realized something important. People who want to read they will ask where they can get your books not who you are published with. As long as you are putting up a good quality book that is all that counts.

  14. Hold out your hand. C’mon, do it. That’s right…stick it way out there.

    *smack*

    Reality check. You got an idea, you started writing a book, you FINISHED that bad boy, and you’re getting ready to toss it out into the world to stand on it’s own two…er, pages. I bet it does. I even bet it gets up and boogies, jitterbugging its digital butt across the reading landscape.

    It better because the Pirate Festival awaits and you need moola to make it north.

    Just saying.

  15. I think having confidence as a writer grows out of the work that you do, somewhat the feedback you get, but ultimately it’s an evolution … you grow into it. It took me quite some time, but I’m getting there. The confidence that I can write a good story, that I have still more to learn, and that none of that is validation or not-validation … it’s simply where I am in the process.

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