A writer friend has been on a winning streak lately. Her work has been accepted by several editors and she's shared the good news with her fellow writers. In one comment she said, I know we're not really supposed to care so much if others like our work or not, but it still feels awfully good when they do.
I fired back an answer to her that she had every right to care. Maybe her feeling is based on things our mothers taught us as kids. We all heard things like Don't brag. Nobody likes a person who boasts. Don't toot your own horn. In some cases, that's good advice but once you become a writer, you need to step back and look with a different perspective. Besides, caring and boasting are two different things.
So, exactly why do I think this writer should care? Here's my list of reasons
- she's put in a great deal of time and effort on her accepted pieces
- she sends in her very best work
- she studies her markets carefully
- she continues to learn and grow as a writer
- she has set goals and attains them one by one
- she is genuinely talented in this field
- she has a strong voice that comes through in all her work
- she's earned the joy of caring a lot about her accomplishments
I think every writer should care if others like their work. We care a lot when an editor sends an acceptance. We care when a reader sends a positive comment. We care when our writer friends compliment our work. And you know what? It's perfectly alright to care a lot. So go for it without any reservation. Jump for joy! Do the Happy Dance! Smile broadly! Puff out your chest!
And most of all--when the bad times come in the form of stories that don't work or multiple rejections, reach into your memory bank to remind yourself how good you felt when things were going well.