Validation by Misha Herwin

When an artist finishes a painting, people can come and see it, the same is true of a sculptor’s work, or a photographer’s. With a writer it is very different, because there is another process to be gone through. Unless the book is published in some form then to some extent it may as well not exist. Without readers there is no communication, no feedback, no appreciation of what has been achieved, however perfect, or imperfect it might be.

A book, a poem, a story, a play could languish on a hard-driver or in a notebook for ever and no one will ever know that you are a writer.

Admitting that is what I do, was really hard at first. The nearest thing I can compare it to was what it must be like to stand up in a meeting and say that you are an alcoholic. Because, at that point, I’d had very little published I felt that I was being pretentious. How could a couple of plays for schools possibly put me in the same category as a best selling novelist?

For me the only way to prove I was a “real” writer was to get a traditional publishing deal. So I tried… and tried. I did all the right things. I got an agent (I’ve had three) and we almost sold “City of Secrets” to a top publisher.

When it didn’t happen, I went down the self-publishing/Indie route and eight children’s books, four adult novels and a slew of short stories later my imposter syndrome is fading and I happily tell anyone that I am a writer.

And yet…lurking deep down inside there is still a need for validation.

Would this have come with a traditional publishing deal? Who knows?   Maybe then I would be yearning to be in the best-seller lists. And if I achieved that, perhaps I would be pushing for a movie deal.

In any event that’s not where I am and most of the time it doesn’t bother me. Part of this is because, I am now at a point where everyone knows that I am a writer. I’ve been asked to take part in projects locally, or be on a committee or a panel. I also do workshops and host the quarterly 6x6 Reading Café with Jan Edwards at our local library. Then there are random encounters with readers who want to know what I’m working on next, or tell me what they liked about the book they’ve read.

This year, of course none of this has been able to happen, so it’s back to being alone with my PC and laptop. Immersing myself in the world of social media. I’ve joined forums and tweeted and posted on FB, been on YouTube and written blog posts. It’s not the same as talking about my writing, or performing in public but it’s given me a wider audience.

It’s also shown me how important the community of writers is. How at whatever stage we are, we share the same problems and how supportive of each other we are. This interaction with others who know where I’m coming from certainly validates what I do and how I see myself.

I wonder if anyone else feels the same. 




Umberto Tosi said…
Count me in! I feel much the same. You raise the cosmic conundrum we all face as writers. If a novelist types a manuscript in the forest and no one listens. does it make a noise? I say yes, but none of us know for sure. We can only give our answers one-by-one. At least here at AE we ARE listening to each other! Happy holidays!
This rings a bell particularly the 'I am an alcoholic' moment when you tell other people with no previous idea that you'd ever written anything.
Peter Leyland said…
Yes, this resonates with me too Misha. I have tried sell-publishing as you have, and did get one traditional publishing deal ages ago. I have found that being invited to join AuthorsElectric has really boosted my confidence as a writer. Although my writing is largely memoir and non-fiction, it has given me room to experiment and 'validation' from other bloggers has been invaluable. Thanks for the posting.
Totally agree with you all - one labours along and then, wonders why one bothers, since it seems that only people who are 'award-winning' get any notice taken of them! I really only began to write seriously (full length novels) once my children were grown, and decided than that the Indie route was the best since I wasn't getting younger with time to spend chasing publishers, filled with hope, for years... I have 2 novels out 'self (or 'Indie' -published but am no good at promotion or marketing - Another thing which feeds imposter syndrome is,(have others encountered this?) - 'friends' (I mean real, long-term, in the flesh not just on social media friends) - don't take one seriously... some will read, enjoy, and even Amazon-review my books - but many show absolutely no interest - you know they kind of thing - they don't see me as 'a writer' or - even worse - they ask 'Are you still writing?"in a tone rather like 'shouldn't you be retired by now - like the rest of us?'
misha said…
Thanks for your comments everyone. A couple of things I find vital to keep in mind: writers write-if you write you are a writer, even if you're not a published author. Are we writers as interested in our friends' jobs, successes as we expect them to be in ours? For them publishing a book may be no more important that getting that promotion, or degree or etc etc.

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