Monday, November 8
Does It Really Matter What People Say?
I had a rough time in my early school years - glasses, teacher's pet, smart enough to ruin the curve for everyone else....yeah, I was definitely asking for much of the teasing I received. My mother insisted that it didn't matter what other people thought or said of me. Many, many years later, that lesson still has failed to root in my psyche.
I wrote for fun. But in the 7th grade, I won the creative writing award (a real trophy!) and discovered the allure of reward-topped writing. Raked in the literary awards in high school, too. Didn't endear me to my peers, needless to say, but I still liked seeing my name in the paper, touching my crisp certificates with the big gold seals. Did it make writing more enjoyable? Nope. But it filled up a different hole, the endlessly needing to be refilled cavern called self-esteem.
Fast forward to today. I've won contests, and I've had books published. Every single review I've received has been positive. And yet last week, I received the lowest contest scores ever. Horrible, horrible scores, with loads of comments about exactly where my writing fell short. The irony of it all was that the reviews for my latest book are currently rolling in, and I was able to read rave reviews lauding my descriptive powers and compelling voice right after having two contest judges rip me to pieces.
Did I somehow lose my ability to write between books 2-3? Probably not. Is there a chance those judges were not properly trained? Definitely. Does it still matter to me what they thought? Without a doubt. But I still write for fun. I write because I love the feel of crafting a world, shaping characters and dialogue. I don't write to win contests. That deep seated need for validation, however, just won't go away. This morning, I opened my inbox to yet another great review (please do check it out at Minding Spot). Right or wrong, it helped build my shaky self esteem back up. I was pitifully grateful for it. And I wish it didn't matter.