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.