For her IWSG contribution this month, Elizabeth Seckman discusses an ages-old writer’s complaint — “how hard writers work for so little money.” It’s a undeniable fact that paralyzes the cautious and frustrates the ambitious. In response, Seckman briefly recounts the story of a former football player who developed an unconventional idea for athletic wear. After creating his product and persuading fellow athletes to confirm its functionality, the inventor began selling his bizzare product out of his car trunk. Despite limited resources, the inventor continued believing in his product, and persevered:
He did ask for validation. He didn’t ask for approval.
He just went to work.
And yes, the product was Under Armour, now one of the most successful brands in athletic wear. But the real value of this anecdote is in two words:
- Validate – to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of
- Approval – permission to do something
Both of the above definitions are among several possible, and were chosen to underscore Seckman’s message. As writers, we need to know our family, friends, and peers support our career, that they feel what we do is a worthwhile pursuit. Yet our support groups don’t enable our careers — each writer has to provide the initiative, the drive to succeed at this difficult career.
At times, the idea of writing for a living, when the rewards never seem to match the level of effort or quality, seems as bizzare as the idea of underwear that doesn’t get wet. Finding people to approve our ambition would probably be futile and is certainly unnecessary — but to go down this path alone, with no validation that our work is worthwhile, would quickly lead to a frustrating end.