Is there anything you do that you don’t require some sort of validation for?
Humans are such social creatures. Does that make us need validation from outside sources? Does that feed in to our “look at me” attitude? For other beings, things are more utilitarian. Build a nest so you won’t be eaten by predators on the ground and your eggs won’t fall to the ground. Hunt so that you can eat.
We have Twitter and Facebook so that we can constantly update our social networks with information about what we’re doing. “Just cooked the most fabulous dinner.” “Seeing the new release of Terminator:Salvation.” We post photos of ourselves and our children, videos of ourselves playing Guitar Hero, links to events we’re promoting or involved in. Are we creating connection or feeding our own narcissism? Are we showing off?
When I look at the kinds of things I do that I don’t require some sort of pat on the back for, I’m not sure there are many of them. When I spend a chunk of time planning, shopping for and creating a delicious meal for my family, I want some feedback. I want someone to say, “Wow, sweetie! That rocked!” or “Mom, please make this again!”
When I think about my book and what I want from it, I have to say that it isn’t one of those things. I truly wrote the book for myself. It would be sprinkles on the cake to have someone say they loved it or that it reached them somehow. The frosting would be the fact that it got published at all. I don’t expect or need, or even particularly want to sell a million copies and get rich from the book. The process of writing it was huge for me. It was an exercise in doing something solely for myself, solely to prove to myself that I could do it. The focus, the absolute selfishness it took to find the time to engage in the research and writing of the book, knowing that the chances it would be published was a way of saying to myself that it was worth doing simply because it was something I wanted to do. How do you justify spending five years of your life doing something that will probably not pay out financially at the end?
The answer, for me was that I wrote it because I was absolutely compelled to do so. To this day, I write because I can’t NOT write. I don’t write for a paycheck. I don’t write for an audience (much), because when I do I’m necessarily not happy with my process or the product. I write because I have to. And that is one of the things that I do that is pure.