I have a certificate from the International Association of Real Writers to prove it, too. It’s hanging on the wall next to my desk and it has a gold seal and everything.
Several years ago my friend and critique partner Janni Simner awarded these certificates to all of us in the group, to remind us that it isn’t winning contests or even being published that made us real writers. It was our persistent effort to tell stories. Looking at the certificate certainly helped me through the occasional dark day when I wondered if anyone other than my critique group would ever read my work.
Now I’m in the process of doing the edits my publisher requested for my novel, Veiled Mirror. I’d like to say that I don’t feel any more like a Real Writer than I did before, and for the most part it’s true. I’ve always taken my writing seriously, even before I sold that first short story. But there is something very, very nice about having external validation.
Wait a minute, you say, didn’t you just write a piece about ignoring external input? That the internal voice was the one we should be listening to?
I did. But this isn’t the same thing as letting others influence what you choose to write or how you publish it.
I’m talking about appreciating the achievement of a goal long pursued. As much as you might fight it, making a sale subtly changes how you see yourself, and how others see you.
Someone with a truly zen perspective might be able to navigate the waters of selling and not-selling with no difference in outlook. That would be wonderfully serene frame of mind.
I haven’t achieved that yet.