I’ll admit it: I’m a certified approval junkie. As a kid, I sought the approval of adults: At home, I was the good girl who tried to avoid getting in trouble with my parents. In elementary school, I was that annoying teacher’s pet who sat in the front of the room and knew the answer to every question. Then, once I hit adolescence, I craved the approval of my peers. In high school, I did anything I could to be accepted by the “in” crowd. Even as an adult, I often find myself overly concerned about whether or not people like me or think I’m good at what I do.
And that craving for approval definitely extends to writing. When I first started my journey on the writing path, all I wanted to hear was that my work was great. Then, as I got more comfortable being critiqued, and as I learned how much my writing improved with revision, I started to welcome constructive criticism. But even then, I was showing work to people who were rooting for me, who wanted to help me improve my work so I could achieve success.
Once I started submitting my manuscripts to agents and editors, the need for approval soared to a whole new level. Here were people in high places who didn’t know me from Adam, who seemed to hold my very future in their hands. One kind word from an editor could have me smiling for days; one harsh criticism could send me sliding into a depression.
Fast forward many years to the release of FLYAWAY. When Advanced Reader Copies first started making the rounds, I eagerly scanned Goodreads and blogs for early reviews. Many were positive, but I found that there were people out there who really didn’t like my book. Ouch! Those first negative reviews had me diving for my bed and pulling the covers over my head, vowing that I’d never come out.
But time has passed. I’ve gotten lots of reviews, many positive, some negative. Being a published author has taken me to a new place: I finally realize that it’s OK for not everyone to like me, or in this case, like my book. I believe in what I’ve written, and I’m proud of myself for putting it into the world. It takes courage to write from the heart, knowing my words will be read by perfect strangers.
If they don’t like what I have to say, so be it.
Are you an approval junkie? If so, how do you deal with the criticism and rejection that’s an integral part of the writing life?