Monday, May 19, 2014


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I'm ashamed.  It happened about a month ago.  I was desperate.  Sitting in wait.  Hoping against hope.  That just this once it would be me.  It was uncharacteristic for me to even want it in the first place.  Because awards are such bullshit.  I've always thought so.  So why, did I pay $80 to submit my book for an IPPY award?

I couldn't get an agent.  Or a publisher.  I don't have a degree, nor have I even ever taken a course in writing.  So therefore, there is no paid professional writing critiquer who would obviously know his or her shit because they were a paid professional writing critiquer, to declare, "You write good".  Cause I'm positive those are the words a wordsmith would use.

Now, while I'm normally a fairly well balanced realist, who at this point in my life can usually see my motivations before I act on things, on this particular occasion, I was completely deluded and blindsided by myself.  It's a passive marketing tool.  That's what I told myself.  If I get an award, I'll sell more books.  While that's partially true, it's mostly total crap.  

I realized this on the reveal date.  All day anxiously and obsessively checking the IPPY website for updates.  Imagining myself calling my husband to tell him the good news.  "I'm a good writer.  Someone I don't know who is a paid professional writing critiquer said so.  So obviously, it's true!"  

Of course that's not what happened.  I neither came in first, second nor third in my particular memoir category.  All of the books that filled those three spots had completely award-winning sounding titles.  And I felt so completely stupid for even entering the contest, much less thinking I had a shot at winning.  What made me think I even had a chance in the first place?  Stupid.  Stupid.  Stupid.

It took me precisely 5 minutes to put things in complete perspective.  Entering the contest and having hope I could win was not in and of itself stupid.  But the search for external validation was and still is.  

I don't write for awards.  Or to have a best seller.  I write for me.  My words are valid, standing on their own, simply because they're true and they're mine.  The only person who can both validate and invalidate me is me.  


joeh said...

Well said.

I write because I enjoy it. If a couple of people say they read and they enjoy, that is enough.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the time I entered my baby boy, who's now seven, in the "most beautiful baby" contest in Parenting or something and was so sure he would win. I was disappointed when he didn't, but I love him no less, and I am no less proud. And I haven't entered another contest since!

Muriel Jacques said...

We all long for validation Marie. As long as writing makes you happy, who cares about awards? I say keep writing!

Janine Ripper said...

So true, and we all succumb to wanting external validation every now and again. Sometimes these things help to remind us why exactly we are doing what we do...I need that wake up call with blogging every now and again. I've recently realised that I will struggle writing for anyone else and writing on what they want me to write about. In the end I write for me, from me for people like me...

Krista S. said...

I look forward to checking in with your blog every few days or so to read about the adventures you have recently had, or your quirky and humorous takes on seemingly everyday and mundane tasks. I don't know you in person, so I enjoy reading your blog SIMPLY BECAUSE OF YOUR WRITING:) It's true that we are the only ones who can truly validate or invalidate ourselves - but from my little corner of the world, thank you for the efforts and time you put into writing about your world - it brings some laughs and some new perspectives.insights to mine!

The Loerzels said...

@ Krista-I am completely touched and honored by your words, you have no idea! And thank you for taking the time to get through the stupid captcha thing that's a pain in the ass to tell me so!


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