Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Indie Life bloghop - Selfy Publishers

Hello there. As part of my drive to get back into blogging, I thought I'd reinvigorate my posting for this group, which I've missed for several months. I'm still working towards self-publication of my novel and my WIP is undergoing revisions with this aim in mind. Today I'm talking about what it means to have validation as a writer.

I saw an item on This Morning recently (a daytime TV show in the UK, and no, I don't sit around watching TV all day; I'd done my work for the day and had just switched it on while making lunch. This particular segment was actually post-12pm!) They were talking about selfies, a phenomenon of which you are doubtless aware, whereby people take a picture of themselves usually to post on Facebook or Twitter. What I hadn't considered was that people are posting the pics specifically to get a reaction (along the lines of "Wow, you look cool/hot/smokin'/another temperature variant). Apparently they can be quite upset if no one responds. My initial reaction was that their lives must be pretty shallow if they need that type of reassurance, but then I told myself to shut up and stop being so judgemental. As writers, isn't part of our reason for publishing to receive validation, some signal that what we are doing is worthwhile?

Note I said reason for publication. I think many of us would agree that a big part of writing is to get a story out of our heads, exercise those characters knocking around in there and demanding we listen to their trouble. If that was all there was to it, that novel would be filed away in a desk drawer or hard drive and on we would go with our merry lives. But for most of us, at some point and after revising so hard we can't even see the words on the screen any more, we want to see if anyone else will like it too. (Let's face it, money is a very minor factor, if even a consideration at all in this game.)

A lot of people stress over reviews and take bad ones quite personally, although it's important to remember that it is based on the book, not you as a person. At least it should be... there is a notorious dark side to this whole thing, but in the main, reviewers are interested in the story, not the author. But it's human nature to see this as a reflection on ourselves and the tone of a review has the power to make or break our day.

What do you think? Do you need validation as a writer? What are your reasons for wanting to publish? Do you read your reviews, and what sort of reactions do you have to them?

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15 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Phishing for a reaction - I think that's what everyone does to a degree.
I think I just wanted to see if I could do it. Although it was the validation that kept me writing.
I do read reviews and I try to learn from them.

Mina Burrows said...

Validation is important in so many aspects of life.

I like what William Faulkner said though, "The artist doesn't have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don't have the time to read reviews."

~Sia McKye~ said...

I think it's a personal challenge. Can I do it? If I'm good, can I be better? It's also a creative outlet that I need.

Validation has gone a long way to encourage me to continue writing.

I admit that my writing took a second (or third) seat to other issues in my life the past couple of years but, there's still a yearning to take my writing to the next step. Having someone enjoy the adventure is a lure that's hard to resist. :-)

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Larry Kollar said...

I've always associated "validation" with traditional publishing, as in getting that agent and publisher to sign on. But reading this, it's pretty clear there's other roads to validation. For example, I had a book hit #1 in an obscure category (Fiction -> Adventure -> Travel) last week, and that's definitely a kind of validation!

Good luck getting your book together. It's always going to take longer than you expect. :-)

Jay Noel said...

As I've gotten older, I have less of a need to feel validation. But deep down, it's there. Call it insecurity!

Crystal Collier said...

LOL! Validate me, please! Yes, I totally feel that way, but that's why I'm married to a wonderful man who makes sure I know I'm special. On Monday I had a discussion in the comments of my blog about how our writing is a reflection of us, as writers, opening our hearts and pouring them onto the page. So yes, the book is an extension of ourselves, and that's why it hurts when people reject it. Still, it's up to us to be the big kids on the block and realize not everyone will love what we produce, but there will be some. That's where we need to focus.

M Pax said...

We definitely want a reaction of some sort. What everyone wants can vary. I want to sell because I want people to read my books. So I can keep writing them. I'd write anyway. It's just part of who I am, but maybe I'd not work so hard at it.

Jennifer said...

Yes I want validation. But for now my standards are pretty low do just having a single person purchase my as yet unpublished novel would be validation enough.

Heather Holden said...

I think everyone craves validation, at least a little bit. It's nice to know all the effort you put into a project can be enjoyed by someone other than yourself!

Mark Noce said...

Glad you're keeping up the progress on your writing:) I think so long as you get a sense of satisfaction putting words on the page, the rest is all mere detail. I mean why do we do other things we do, from playing sports to watching movies to reading books? If we didn't immeditaely like it and get pleasure from it we wouldn't do it, right?

Tyrean Martinson said...

I would write without validation or a reaction of any kind - I know that because I did it for years, keeping my writing habits to myself for the most part. However, I have to say that validation is seriously sweet - the good kind obviously. I haven't gotten any one star reviews yet, and the three star reviews just make me want to keep polishing my craft.
I don't check for reviews often . . . and sometimes I've had friends tell me to check my amazon or goodreads page, because I won't know about them until way later.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nick - I really can't stand all the attention seeking - sometimes we need to do it - ie promoting our book .. but stupidity just doesn't grab me!! Also it's such a waste of time ...

Good luck though with continuing on with your writing - as to reviews .. the only thing that would worry me would be malicious or similar intent ... other than that we all have opinions on others writing .. and things in life ..

Cheers - keep on writing .. Hilary

Nick Wilford said...

Alex - It's definitely a good idea to learn from reviews if they're constructive.

Mina - Great quote! There is some truth to that, but not sure I could switch off from wanting to know what people think!

Sia - Yes, writing is a personal challenge in a lot of ways. And having someone like it is good for knowing we aren't wasting our time!

Larry - I would love to have an agent and publisher like my work, but I think I would always value readers' responses first. There is something kind of mythical about getting that big contract though, isn't there?

Jay - It probably doesn't ever go away completely!

Crystal - I think you nailed it here, it's such a personal thing that a bad review feels like an attack on ourselves. I think a good approach is to see a book as its own entity with its own life when it's out there - although it's hard to let go!

M - Good point, we wouldn't have much motivation or funding to produce further books if people didn't read them. I'm the same though, I would always write something!

Jennifer - Yes! Just having an impact on one person would be very sweet. :)

Heather - Good point! With all the hard work, you want to feel like it was all for a purpose.

Mark - You're right - and we want other people to enjoy the things we do, too.

Tyrean - I can see how reading reviews too much might have an effect on what you're writing. At the same time it's good if there are lessons to be learned from them.

Hilary - There's definitely a right and wrong way of marketing! Jumping up and down on Twitter shouting "buy my book" is the wrong way. That's probably the nearest thing we have to those selfies!

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Nick,
For me, validation came when a publisher said yes. However, I know how important reviews can be to a book' success, so in that respect I like to have well-thought-out assessments of my work.

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