Now that I’ve gotten over the shock and awe of having my book accepted, I’ve kind of gotten used to it and see it as part of my every day life. I thought that when I reached this stage, I’d look at being a writer as over-rated and complain about how my life hasn’t changed as magically as I thought it would.
But, if I’m honest with myself, my life has changed for the better. People do treat you differently when you have or about to have a novel published. I do feel proud of myself and I recognise it as an achievement I can never lose.
This isn’t why I wrote the book. I wrote it because it was something I felt needed to be said. (I’m not just being modest or whatever, I really mean that.) But, being a writer does validate me. Yet, I’ve been wondering whether this is because I have nothing else in my life to validate me instead. (Cue violins).
Being from a large family in the Jewish community means that I feel the fundamental pressure to over-achieve. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just the culture. When I left school, I didn’t even see other unis but Melbourne and Monash as options. Although, my family placed no pressure on me to do anything ‘more’ with my life, when I started the Creative Arts degree I made a vow in my head that it was because I was going to be a writer and not because I was going to be a ‘flake’.
Part of it was to justify why I stopped being religious. I felt I needed to ‘achieve’ something if I wasn’t going to be religious anymore. (I’m writing another blog post where I’ll go into more detail about this.)
I grew out of this mentality, as I realised that nobody had any expectations on me. (And I was lucky because of this). And all my hang ups and expectations were ones I placed on myself. But, they were still there and although I’d externalized the blame, for whatever reason, I still felt I needed to address it.
As I went through my early twenties, I tried to re-think the basics of life and question why I needed to ‘achieve’ anything at all. I saw that some of my friends didn’t seem fussed about it. So, why should I?
The easiest way to stop feeling uncomfortable about ‘what I did’, would have been to stop caring about it. I tried doing this, but I found I needed to constantly reaffirm to myself that I didn’t care about what I did and I would avoid conversations with anyone who would challenge me. And I’d just always feel a little bit crappy.
So, I decided to work my arse off instead until I just established myself as an author.
A lot of the emotions that come with having a book published are emotions I think I could replicate by entering into many other profession. It’s just nice to feel employed. Employment, for me, doesn’t mean getting paid. It means being needed. There is a requirement that I do a certain thing that nobody else can do. I’ve felt the same feelings when I started doing childcare. I’d overshoot my value and get all indignant if anyone challenged my ability to do it effectively. And, in my head, I’d be like: ‘I’m invaluable!’
Reading it now, I think this all stemming from insecurity.
The point, though, is that I might just be the type of person who could take pride in the work I do, whatever that may be. Because I’m the type who needs to take pride in my work. And I’ve chosen writing.
I’ve gradually increased the amount of writing I do on a daily basis from when I was teenager. I always saw being a writer as a relaxing lifestyle, in which I could tap away at a story whenever the desire took me. But, in reality, when you work as a writer, you actually have to sit around writing all the time. If I didn’t love the work, I know I couldn’t do it.
But, because I love the work, it’s easy for me to take pride in it as a profession.
(It’s probably worth mentioning that before I was published, I placed too much pressure on my writing to actually get published. And now that there isn’t that pressure anymore, the actual writing has become easier. Which makes it feel more satisfying.)
All this said, I don’t like to buy into the all the affirmation I’ve been getting lately. Ultimately, it’ll make me arrogant, I’ll need further constant affirmation to keep me feeling all chuffed with myself and I’ll start to feel jealous of other people’s success —because they got the gold star stickers on their work that I felt I was entitled to.
I might be wrong, but I feel like this validation thing is quite malleable. When I was religious, I felt validated about being Jewish, now that I’m working it’s ‘what I do’. I think that if I have the need to feel validated, I’ll find something to fill the void. I have a habit of drawing conclusions, though. And this is just the way I see it right now. If you think I’m wrong, please let me know.
I also assume these thoughts are all par-for-the-course for anyone in their mid to late twenties. And many people grow out of the need to feel validated or grow to realise that the family they build is more important than anything. (Or perhaps I’m romanticizing it). Anyway, maybe I’ll find the same thing. But, I don’t have a family just now. And validation still matters. I’m sure it’s just a stage, but I don’t see the point in rushing through life stages. I don’t know where I’d be rushing towards. So, in the meantime, this book will have to do.