There are a few phrase I’ve been introduced to since I’ve started writing and trying to get published. I’m sure every other person out there who is writing have heard these, and I’m sure you all groan and mutter under your breath a few choice words when you hear them. One that I’ve heard over and over again is that writing is subjective. Ugh! It makes me want to pull my hair out!
I never realized how much I crave validation until I put my writing out there to be judged. Validation, I’m somewhat ashamed to say, is something I’ve never had to actively seeked. I’ve never had to because it’s always been freely given to me. Whether it was my grades, my work, my relationship-I’ve always had someone telling me I’m doing a great job. In school I always got good grades. Whenever I was working, my job performance was usually remarked upon and rated highly. My husband has always made me feel loved, and even though there are low point in motherhood I know I have two great kids who are well-behaved and happy. That doesn’t happen by accident. I know I’ve done a great job in these areas of my life because, well, people have told me so. I take pride in this. I am a hard worker and am dedicated to giving my best in everything I do.
But somehow, I now find myself craving validation that I haven’t been able to find. I feel like my daughter who is constantly saying, “Look at me mom! Aren’t I doing a great job!” Yes honey, you are so good at standing on one foot. I’ve never seen anyone ever do it that well.
I’ve been on a bit of a contest binge lately. I’ve entered PitchWars, PitchSlam, PitMad, and Nightmare on Query Street all within the last couple months. I also entered a writing contest through RWA. I have not gotten into any of them. Ive met great people, I’ve received some nice words of encouragement, and even gotten a little validation that I’m on the right path with changes I’ve made. I’ve gotten so close…but still so far away. And through it all I’ve heard over and over and over, please remember writing is subjective.
Today I had a breakthrough. I didn’t win a contest, I didn’t land an agent. Instead, I was sent an email with my judging scores to a contest I entered last month. I’ve heard this particular contest is judged pretty harshly, and I can’t say I was surprised when I wasn’t a finalist. But I was interested to see what the judges had to say. The first judge (a contestant finalist) had some very nice words, as well as good suggestions on making improvements. My scores were slightly above average in all categories, and my overall score was a 34.5 out of 45. I was good with this. The second judge (An RWA pro and trained judge) made very little comments in my entry. I opened my score sheet expecting them to be low. There were wonderful comments about how she didn’t want to stop reading and would highly recommend my work to a friend. She loved it! My score…45 out of 45!
Here it was, subjective judging smacking me in the face! Two industry professionals looking at the exact same thing. One of them liked it but thought it needed improvement, and one of them freaking loved it! My first scores were good (at least in my eyes) but my second scores were amazing! I felt validation rushing through me. Finally! I might not have been a finalist in the contest, but I knew one judge would have at least liked me to be.
So what does this one score from a random judge really mean to my writing career? Didly squat! But, it gave me a boost of confidence I’ve been desperately needing. I’m going to ride this rush of excitement as far as it will take me, maybe all the way to publication.