Aspiring writers, as a general group, tend to be obsessed with getting the approval and acceptance of all the right people in traditional publishing. Writers rewrite, reshape, and polish themselves and their work over and over and over again just to get a nod from certain people in the industry. They query and submit and grovel before these literary behemoths. They wait and wait and wait and then are rejected and then do it all over again as many time as it takes. "Just one acceptance and I'm in," they tell themselves.
Why do they do it?
They need acceptance and they need validation from the system before they can consider themselves real writers.
I came across a blog post yesterday which shouldn't really have astounded me and yet it did. It was entitled "Dear Agent". I've seen many such "dear agent" posts but this one was the most piteously sad. You see, the bulk of the post was little more than a video of the song "I Want You to Want Me" by Cheap Trick and the words "This about sums it up". The main verse of the song, of course, goes like this:
I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.
I'd love you to love me.
I'm beggin' you to beg me.
The singer also goes through a list of the things he's willing to do to have his feelings reciprocated:
I'll shine up my old brown shoes.
I'll put on a brand new shirt
I'll get home early from work
if you say that you love me.
I say the post was piteously sad, even though the author almost certainly meant it at least partially in jest, because even if you try to laugh it off, this is exactly how many, many aspiring authors approach traditional publishing.
Do you see the problem? I do. Here it is: publishing is an international business and authors are approaching it like a romantic relationship. They are approaching it from an emotionally needy position. They want to be wanted. They need to be needed. They'd love to be loved. They'll do just about anything to get that validation.
But today is the Insecure Writer's Support Group and I am here to tell you that you don't need their stinking validation.
Now, I am NOT saying that you shouldn't traditionally publish. I'm saying, don't go into it from an emotionally needy position. I'm saying, don't treat publishing like a relationship. I'm saying, don't grovel or rewrite yourself just to get a publishing deal. It's not worth that.
Validation is something that ultimately, if you persevere, you will get from your readers. From their reviews and their letters of thanks. Don't look for it from people who only care about the saleability of your writing. Look for it from the people who buy your writing just for the joy they find reading it.
Right now it may seem like you'll never get to that place. And perhaps, if you focus on trying to please and impress the industry instead of just selling books in a business-like manner, you won't. But if you stop looking for your validation from them and become more secure in your role as a supplier of a product that there is an increasing demand for, you can succeed and achieve great things.
Believe in yourself.
I realize that this is a somewhat hard post to swallow so here is some validation that is good for everyone.