This post is my contribution to Alex J Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. See the list below for about a hundred more posts of encouragement, as well as stories of writers overcoming adversity - or just feeling insecure.
Writers Need Support:
I think there's a difference between support and praise.
From my immediate family, I need support as a writer. I often ask them to gift me with sixty consecutive minutes of relative quiet - not easy with three kids. I need to feel like it's OK if I use up an ink cartridge and a ream of paper every month. If I'm writing, I don't want to be interrupted unless our toddler has pooped everywhere or someone has poked out an eye. Sometimes I need to leave the house to get my focus just for an hour or two - preferably without any medical emergencies while I'm gone. Once in a while, I require eye contact and a pause in the turmoil while I bounce a story idea off of my family.
Except for the occasional eye impalement and many days where there aren't sixty minutes to be given, my immediate family gives me that support and more.
It would be nice if my extended family, the siblings and parents, would acknowledge that what I do is cool, but I don't need praise. I was recently the target of some unexpected praise from a family member. Praise feels false to me, like people are trying to tell me what they think I want to hear. I don't trust it unless it's from someone that knows me very well or is a writer too.
Specific constructive feedback, good or bad, from fellow writers - my daughter included - is a blessing. A simple acknowledgement that someone likes my writing is a gift.
But praise just for attempting to be a writer doesn't make sense to me - it's my job - no one would praise me for going to work at a normal job - they may show interest, but not bubble over with enthusiasm just because I decided to show up for work.
I acknowledge that we all are amazingly brave to do this thing where we work in advance of getting a paycheck, knowing there's a strong possibility we will never get one. If we don't get published, it is not failure. The act of creating is success. Creating daily, one word at a time, despite the hundreds of things that could pull us away from our work is success. Believing in ourselves enough to spend days, weeks, months, or years crafting the same story is success - it proves our determination and our love of what we do.
More than that, writers are the recorders of details in life that would otherwise be missed. Our job is to pay attention to the little things and hope other people can see them through our words. It is OK if I never get paid for that.
I love this community of writers where genuine support is available every day of the week and in abundance on the first Wednesday of the month.