As a writer, you’re better off NOT needing affirmation.
At least, that’s my going theory.
It sounds calloused, I know. Perhaps it’s a result of my upbringing. I learned to survive without praise. If I waited around for pats on the back and encouragement, I wouldn’t have gotten far. I’m better off today having NOT been coddled, raised with the endless accolades and superficial flattery predominant in today’s child-centric culture. Now I’m a firm believer in Neitzsche’s dictum: “That which doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.”
And harder to kill the next time.
Which is probably why I cringe when I sense a writer is fawning for praise. Much like the spider poised on its web waiting for the slightest tremble, many a writer covets affirmation, prepared to rush forth and devour it the moment it’s uttered. Without an occasional attaboy, they will emotionally starve.
For writers, it’s a terrible dilemma. On the one hand, we need affirmation to keep going. On the other, we must keep going even without affirmation. We want to write the stories of our heart, to ply our craft and craft our voice in spite of the naysayers and critics. As long as I like my story, we say, that’s enough. Or to put it more piously: I write for an audience of One. Nevertheless, without affirmation — acknowledgement from an industry professional, a good review, a nomination, an award, a special mention, a fan — how can we know we’re really accomplishing anything?
Some may misunderstand this as a minimization of affirmation. It’s not. Some of the funnest, most fulfilling parts of being a writer is hearing from readers who appreciate your stuff and take the time to say so. My point is: We should not write to be affirmed. Yes, I am thankful when accolades come. But even if they don’t, I must be secure enough in my talent and work ethic to keep writing.
Addiction to affirmation is potentially far more dangerous than the absence of affirmation. I mean, must people tell you your writing is great in order for you to continue doing it?