Friday, November 8, 2013

Approval

If there's one thing I struggle with as a writer, it's the need for approval. I'm not talking about fan approval - which is most important and awesome on so many levels - but the approval from close friends and family. 

After seven years of serious writing, which has netted me six published books and a decent number of fans I actually earned through the merit of my creativity, I find that friends and family tend to fall into two camps: those who are generally supportive and those who seem not to be. Supportive friends and family are great - the more the merrier! - and, at least personally speaking, help validate what I do. Nothing feels better than getting a "congratulations" on release day or a post share on Facebook, and I'm lucky to have so many friends and family to offer a steady stream of praise and encouragement. In my opinion, that kind of support is essential to those who work in a creative field. It's what keeps us going, because Lord knows it isn't the money.

But like a negative review that sticks in your craw, the lack of support from the people you'd most like to receive it - heck, maybe you even feel entitled to it because they're friends and family - hurts. It hurts a lot. 

I imagine some people might think I'm crazy. What's the big deal, right? At the very least, I sound like a whiny, ungrateful toddler. I know I do. But imagine becoming a parent - for the first time or sixth, it's always new and exciting. Now imagine holding your baby in your arms and parading her around for all your friends and family to meet for the first time, to ooh and to aww over, and fall in love with. You're so proud! After all, it took nine long months of growth and anticipation. Some days were easy, but many were a struggle, and you wondered more than once if you would ever actually pop that baby out. But the day finally arrives, and it's such a relief. This perfect little baby represents all your hard work and is, by far, your greatest accomplishment. 

The majority of your friends and family offer their congratulations, as you would hope and expect. Who can resist a cute, cuddly baby, right? They give you hugs and praise and compliments. They make you feel good. And yet others . . . say nothing at all. You don't understand it. Maybe they only like bald-headed babies or babies with fat little cheeks, and yours was born with a full head of hair and is the size of a peanut. Sure they go on talking to you about the mundane little things in life, but get them to acknowledge the new baby in the room, and suddenly their lips are padlocked. You pretend that it doesn't bother you, but deep down it really does. You internalize their silence as I'm not good enough.

I can only imagine that my friends and family who fall into this latter category simply don't care. Not that they're callous. Rather, my work is just not interesting to them. Anyway, I don't expect everyone to 'like' my status whenever I post an updated word count on Facebook. However, if a friend makes a point to show off a shiny award or something she is similarly proud of, you better believe I'm going to say something

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