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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.