“If you stay true to your characters, the story will take care of itself.”
-Eve Byron

What exactly is validation to an author? Is it the completion of a first draft? A second draft? The final draft? Is it hearing praise from their family? Their friends? Their peers or teachers? Is it that first rejection letter? Perhaps their first acceptance letter. Maybe it’s the first time they see their work in print (or online). Maybe it’s the first check. Maybe it’s their book in their hands. Quite possibly none or all of the above.

Whatever it is, I think every writer has moments where they have their writing abilities confirmed.

There have been a substantial amount of validating moments for me. I won’t share them all; I’ll try to put them in a chronological order as well. And since I think we’re all familiar about my sale to Daily Science Fiction, that one goes without say. 🙂

But one of my biggest moments of validation was when I was a teenager and I took an online writing course with Gotham Writers’ Workshop. That was the first time my work (my serious work and not something like fanfiction) was seen by total strangers. I was praised on how well my dialogue was true to real life. The students’ comments, as well as the teacher’s, were phrased constructively, and they really enjoyed what they read. As a teenager, you could probably imagine how much of an impact their words had on me.

Another moment of validation was when I completed my first NaNoWriMo several years back. I wrote the 50,000 words but the story wasn’t finished, so I trekked on. Not long afterwards I finished my first novel! That was a huge moment for me. I just need to rewrite it now, hahaha.

When I went to my first writers’ conference a couple of years ago, all of the attendees had to offer the first page of our story to be read anonymously to a panel of three (which included the keynote speaker and an editor). While my work did spark comments for improvement, each of the three liked my work. I even spoke with the keynote speaker later that evening and she was shocked that I was the one who wrote the piece I did (as it was about a married couple). She thought I really nailed the characterization.

Another validation:  When I got an e-mail from a market saying that my story passed through several rounds before being cut. That’s like, “Wait. My work passed the first round? And at least the second one? AWESOME!” Something like that one kinda forgets it was a rejection letter to begin with.

Last great moment I’ll share is when Odyssey put me on their 2010 waiting list. That was a big accomplishment right there. I have been wanting to attend a workshop like that for years. And with that being my first year of even applying, it was a great feeling to know I made the shortlist.

After so much validation from so many strangers, there’s absolutely no way I can be told I can’t write. Well, people can tell me that, but there’s no way I’d believe it. Granted, not everything I write the first time is worth showing (I hardly want to reread it, lol) but it’s the process and the revision that makes that final outcome. Knowing what to cut, what to insert, what to tell, what to show, what to expound on, etc.

I believe every writer needs to have that in their heart — that knowing that they have what it takes to write. No matter what sort of facet of you do — journalism, poetry, fiction. Every writer has (or should have/will have) their own list of validating moments to share.

It’s such gratification to know that something I love to do is something people say I have a knack for. Yeah, I found my happy place.

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