Last week’s Flash Fiction Friday was a larger accomplishment than just the 250 word story. So you will excuse me if I celebrate for a moment. Maybe I’ll give you a reason to celebrate something in your life?
When I posted the link to the group the week before, I added a note that while we appreciate the likes we get in the Facebook group, it would help us authors build our platform if people “liked” the posts themselves. One helpful member pointed out to me that the way my website was set up- a long scroll of one story after another- made it impossible because it was all one page, and he couldn’t like a page more than once.
So last Friday I looked at my site thought it would be an easy fix. An entire weekend later….
Yeah. I started tinkering with the site, and quickly discovered that I was not only doing it wrong, but every time I tried to fix it I was spamming my followers with email saying “Hey! I’ve updated the site! Again.” So I took the entire thing off line and went to work without a single idea of what I was doing. I got some help from my Saturday morning writing group, I dug through YouTube, and my husband gave me a couple of Linked-in Learning pages to watch. As it turns out, I was misunderstanding a couple of things about the menu setup. Once I got that fixed- sometime Sunday night- everything snapped into place. Of course by then, I was dead tired, my neck and back were sore, I hadn’t spent more than an hour all weekend with my family, and I still had last week’s flash fiction to complete.
When it was all said, done, and posted, my husband asked, “Was all that really worth it?”
I think the answer to that question is an unqualified yes. Not because it’s now easier for me to engage with readers on a deeper level, but because going through all that, sticking with it to the end was a validation of my drive and ability to create.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about validation and rejection. Rejection is a topic for another day, but validation is the idea that something we have done or some aspect of our life is worthy of acceptance. We can get validation from other people, I often do. My husband is supremely supportive and validating of my creative works. A woman in my writer’s group recently said she really likes this website. People in my circle of faith make it clear to me that they’re happy I’ve joined them. And it’s all lovely. But in the end, if those external validations don’t match up with my interior image of myself, then I’m not as likely to see their kind words as truth.
I think it’s with internal validation that self-confidence and self-worth spring from. Confidence is gained through experience, and your estimation of how you handled that experience. Thus, people who don’t have self confidence may struggle to recognize their achievements, while the arrogant may not be able to match their words with their deeds.
Which brings me back to my flash fiction page. I can look at it now and know that I took something I didn’t know how to do and learned how to accomplish my goal. I got it moving in the direction I want it to look. It was a small project, just a weekend, but it was an accomplishment. I struggle with self confidence, so being able to claim an accomplishment is kind of a big deal.
I may be wrong in this attribution, but I think it was author Joyce Carol Oates who fed me the idea that we need to celebrate our smaller works of creativity because they feed into our internal sense of both accomplishment and validation. Or, more eloquently, as Gandalf said of the Hobbits, “It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.” So too, it is the small everyday accomplishments that gives me the internal validation I need against my lack of self-confidence.
Also, remember that external validation is highly dependent on the morality of the moment. Your most beloved family member may be distracted or grumpy, or worst of all- the dreaded hangry. If you try to build your platform you WILL run into Internet trolls, hatred, rejection, and you may be cancelled thanks to this shifting morality. Internal validation, that sense that you are enough even if others may not agree, is a fortress to keep the haters and trolls outside the gates. So go out and validate yourself in some small way today. You’ve earned it.
I hope you are navigating these most difficult of times with faith, love, and good literature.