I was recently pulled into a conversation with self identified important writer who introduced himself by leading with the periodical that published his work (fittingly, I’ve forgotten the publication). He admitted that publication in this prestigious (his term) magazines was complete validation for his efforts. And anything else was second best – crap.

I was in town to run a work shop on self publishing.  I may or may not have mentioned that during our conversation.

In light of his assertions, I flashed back to the Velveteen Rabbit. Is cash the only validation for a writer?  Is a monetary exchange the only way to be real? Or can you be real through love?

Does your work make a friend laugh?

A parent cry?

What if your words really are enough?

What if you just printed up three copies of your memoir through Create Space (the current favorite) because you want the book on the shelf – your name on the spine and damn it, that’s enough.  Is giving a copy to your grandmother a big enough gesture? Do we really need others to validate our work, our fabulous words?

Is your work about money?  Or love?

Are you in this to make your loved one sigh, or are you counting $50 checks, thinking that if laid end to end, enough will create that stairway to heaven?

Both pursuits are valid. But my question is, are both equally important?

And while we’re at it, the supercilious man who regaled me with how validated his work was?

I didn’t like him.

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  • justinbog
    Posted on August 16, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    A long long time ago, one of my creative writing professors, a fellow writer, in reaction to me speaking about a visiting writer, said, “Justin, if I met half the writers out there, I wouldn’t read their work.” And she meant what you said at the end. I don’t remember now who I spoke about, but it was something about the illusion I had built up about this writer being the most amazing writer and person, fading — it was the person that was letting me down, what was behind the curtain, the ugly side we al try to hide away, shown to me in a glimpse of human weakness. Validation is important; it’s part of the process, and a singular thing for a writer. A writer shouldn’t invalidate another writer’s path to validation. Thanks for the great post.

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