Most professions require a rigorous course of study, and then some sort of Big Test to acquire licensure or accreditation. If you’re a lawyer, you had to pass the bar in your state at some point. Doctor or nurse? Board exams. Engineer, teacher, astronaut...

You name it. Practically every vocational pursuit requires validation from an outside source.

Why, then, should writing be any different?

But there’s no Big Test to be a writer, you might say. Anyone with basic communication skills can put pen to paper and in a few months have The Great American Novel in front of them. Writers are artists. Writers don’t need outside sources to validate their competence.

Well, yes and no. If you write primarily for yourself, as a hobby, with mostly friends and family in mind as readers, then no outside source is required. You can send your manuscript to a POD press and in no time be holding a real live book with your very own name on it. Or, you can format it and try to hawk it on Amazon’s Kindle site or something. You might even make some money.

If, however, you want to be a professional writer, what the industry typically recognizes as a published author, then you’re going to need the green light from a traditional house, one recognized by the industry as legitimate.

That’s right. Publication is our Big Test.

Some writers don’t feel as though they need an outside source to tell them they’re good enough, and that’s fine. Good for them. Sometimes I wish I felt that way.

But I need it. I need the sort of validation only a traditional publishing contract can provide, and I’m going to keep working toward that goal until I achieve it.

How about you?

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As a writer, validation can come from all sorts of sources. I self-published my first book because that what I wanted to do for that project. While I thought it had the possibility to make money, I didn't see it as something from a publisher. And the validation I got from it was that it was all me. Everything from the words, to the layout, to the cover was all me. That meant something to me. The novel I'm writing now is a very different thing and I'm hoping to get it in at a publishing house because that would be a validation to me. Each project though has its own validation to it for me.

The other big thing for me anyway is just satisfying my own creativity. When I finish writing something I want to feel like it's the very best thing I can write. If I don't then I'm not done or maybe there's something wrong with the project.


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