My undying need for validation

Corona time won this time—I may or may not have forgotten that yesterday was Tuesday. But, anyway, here we are.

I didn’t blog last week because I didn’t have anything to say. No, really. Every time I sat down to think about what I wanted to explore about writing or about me writing, nothing came to mind. I’m quick to blame the times we’re in, but in all honesty, I haven’t been writing for a few weeks. Instead, I’ve been trying to make headway in my business. Running a financial services consulting business in what could become the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression is a funny thing. My goal in everything I do is to make myself a servant, and my servant-ness was needed in my business these past few weeks, reassuring people that, whatever happens, everything is going to be okay.

That said, last Wednesday, I made myself attach bum to chair to look through some revision suggestions on a short story. I’m a member of several DC women writers’ groups, and the one that gave me feedback on this story is a fiction group, full of gals who love making things up. They are a delightful bunch, warm and friendly and smart as hell.

The story I presented is my new favorite—every new short story I write is my new favorite, but that’s beside the point. I felt confident in it, but, of course, it needed to be seen through eyes that were not mine. As I listened, I felt the familiar drain of energy as they pointed out things that could be improved.

The mistake I always make with workshopping is seeking some type of external validation. Yes, I do get that to an extent, as workshopping usually starts with “what’s working” before we move onto “what could be improved.” But I find that I crave being told that my story is perfect as it is—and why would that ever be the case?

I’ve been writing full-time for almost four years (although, as stated above, it’s more of a part-time job now), and in that time as a student of writing, I have gotten much better. But I still get intimidated when I think of how far I have to go.

My stories have a measure of emotional depth, but they could do deeper. I could write characters that I haven’t taken from some aspect of my life, but the idea of that feels uncomfortable and foreign, like something I’d make a mess of because I was handling it for the first time. I could write plots that aren’t so cinematic, but frankly, I don’t think I would because I wouldn’t be as entertained.

What I’m saying is, I still have work to do in become a better writer. But I need *internal* validation. I need to know that where I am right now is where I’m supposed to be. That it’s okay to have a vision of where I’d like to go, but not to kick myself for not having arrived yet. To appreciate the work I’ve put in and to embrace it. To love my writing for where it is and not make it mature before it’s ready. Because no one wants to grow up too fast.

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