Validation as an Author by Janet Gurtler

I vividly remember the taste of wanting to be published. I remember the yearning,  the tightly wound knot in my belly -- wanting it so much it made me almost bipolar sometimes.  Hope and despondency seesawing in my head. I remember how sometimes it became almost unbearable how much I wanted it.  And wondered if giving up the dream would make me happier. But I wanted it so much. And I kept going. For me I think much of it was about validation. Well, validation and really, really wanting to see a book I'd written in a book store. And so I persevered.

There were agents to query. Agents who said no. Agents who said yes but the relationship wasn't right, and a scary search all over again.

And then I made it. I got a book published. And there was lots of joy and surprisingly, lots of heartache, too.

And then I found a new agent, and she found me a new publisher. And I feel so blessed. I have a wonderful publisher and an amazing editor and an equally amazing agent. I know how lucky I am. Sometimes it really is the right story at the right time. To the right editor. I have many writing friends who are talented, amazing writers still pursuing the cross over. And I want it for them too. Because I know they deserve it. And it's hard.

I credit myself with tenacity. Some might call it stubbornness and a refusal to give up. Believe me I came close to giving up the dream of being published , many many times. Sometimes I brooded and cried when rejections came in, and other times I was thrilled when a rejection was a good one and offered more hope. And so, I alwys went back to it. Laptop in lap. Writing.

But here's the thing. I am still me. I am still the same writer I was before a publishing company decided they wanted to publish my book.  Yes. I am deliriously happy that I am published. I love Sourcebooks. But I haven't changed. I hope my writing continues to get better. I still work on craft and having an agent, and and editor and copy editors really does help! But I still want.

And me, being me, well I do tend to have an inferiority complex.  I'm still in awe when I meet authors whose work I admire. Sometimes I feel like a fake, like I shouldn't really call myself an author. There are so many out there with more talent, more sales, more creativity, more!  Many who published younger, got bigger advances,  have bigger sales who've won awards and well, I'm still just me.

As a published author, things have changed in many ways, but in many ways, they are exactly the same. True, now I'm not always seen as a woman obsessed with writing and tee hee isn't that a cute little hobby she has, and oh my it's been a few years, and she's not published yet,  really, why is she still wasting her time doing that? (And that was from my husband lol)

But I learned on my trip to BEA, (where I was there mostly as a stalker/fan) that I am not always completely comfortable in my author skin.  I have insecurities and sometimes feel embarrassed or 'less than' other  authors. I am gobsmacked by people like Libba Bray and Sarh Dessen and David Levithan and Ellen Hopkins, (and THAT list goes on and on)

Yet. Having said that, the best moment of my trip to NY was at a party in SOHO  that was held by        Daniel Ehrenhaft, someone whom I admire (and always will love because he was the original editor to acquire I'M NOT HER)  Anyhow it was the coolest thing ever. The room was FILLED with literary types. Authors, editors, agents. All hobnobbing and circulating and I was THERE and I actually felt PART of it. It was if I dare say it, validating. So far removed from my little house way out in Canada where I sit by myself and write and only virtually converse with other booky types. So cool.

So when do authors feel validating, like they've made it? I guess, like most things in life, it's different for everyone. I guess I haven't figured it out for me yet.  But I think I'm getting closer.


  1. Totally relate. I wonder if sometimes it's because my book hasn't come out yet--but I can totally relate to being at BEA and being star-struck at every turn. Sarah Dessen, David Levithan! Arthur Levine! Libba Bray! In some ways, I hope that sense of magic and awe never really go away.

  2. Thanks for sharing such an open and honest part of your writer/author heart. Tenacity is one of my favorite words. So glad you never gave up!

  3. Really insightful post, thanks for sharing :)

  4. Such an honest post. Thanks for sharing. Wish I had known another YA Outside the Liner was at BEA; we could have met up. I was wandering around star struck, too :)

  5. When do authors feel validated, like they've "made it?" I'll let you know when it happens. ;-D

  6. Heartfelt, honest post. I can relate to that wild roller coaster of desire, euphoria and angst that even if you've made it, you might not really be a member of the club...

    Except - you are!! :)

  7. Love this post. Thanks for your honesty :)

  8. Love this post and when I went to BEA last year I felt the exact same way. I still have a lot of "I'm not worthy" feelings and total fangirl moments about other authors, but it is so amazing to be a part of the writing community, the YA community especially!


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