Sunday, October 19, 2008


We writers are a needy bunch.

Perhaps because the only way we can measure success is by the approval of others.

The act of writing is often fulfilling, but by its very nature self-indulgent. And after spending time in our own heads, we need others to validate our efforts because we can't objectively judge them ourselves.

Success in this business requires acceptance from agents, editors, and readers. From the first two, we seek this acceptance by submitting, rewriting, and editing manuscripts, and all too often we get rejection letters for our efforts.

As for readers, we naturally want to reach as many as possible, and get as many of those to like us as possible. But because reading, like writing, takes place in a person's head, there often isn't any indication of how much acceptance we're actually receiving.

So we seek it out. We Google our own names, and check our Amazon rank and reviews, and track our website hits, and count our blog comments, and obsess over royalty statements, and accumulate MySpace friends, and hope that all of this will somehow make us less neurotic and more confident.

But it doesn't make us more confident. It makes us ashamed. We wonder why more people don't like us, at the same time despising why we consistently seek out their acceptance, and hating ourselves for doing so in the first place.

This blog is not going to show you how to be less needy. If you're a writer, that's impossible.

But it is going to tell you something all writers need to know.

It's okay to be needy.

So you can stop feeling bad that you crave approval. You can stop thinking you obsess too much over your career. You can stop worrying that you're some lone freak, feeling small and weak while everyone around you overflows with confidence.

Everyone picks their nose. Everyone masturbates. And all writers are needy.

Neediness is wired into the artistic temperament. Not only does it make us strive to succeed and improve, but once you truly stop caring about what other people think you become both insufferable and a lazy writer.

So go ahead. Embrace being needy. Seek out the approval of others, and when you find it, enjoy it.

And when instead of approval you find scorn, envy, bitterness, and hateful attacks, remember that they're only opinions---opinions that come from whiny, unhappy, nose-picking morons who masturbate waaaaaay too much.

Now I encourage you to leave a comment here, and then forgive yourself when you check back 17 times today to see if anyone responded to you.


Anonymous said...

Thanks. I needed this...

Anonymous said...

Tell us about Bouchercon.

Steve in Germany

Marcie Steele said...

Just fabulous!

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I feel so much better about myself. Now I need to go set my Google Alert for my name.

FIONA said...

So true. And I would like to add that the validation of being published is HUGE. I just found out that a short story of mine will be published in an ezine and I was thrilled--my first publishing credit.

I guess I'll have to set a google alert, too, anniegirl1138. ;-)

Gayle Carline said...

It's all about us, isn't it? I feel so self-centered, so egotistical, so... wait, I got a new follower on Twitter!

*Akilah Sakai* said...

Everyone masturbates? No more hand shaking for me! I kid.

Great post Joe and so damn true.

Unknown said...

I feel the need to say now that I love your blog. =D

Miss Mahana said...

I liked this post. Especially the masturbation part. I know all about that.

Niteowl said...

Well, hot damn. I won't think myself odd for refreshing my stats page every five minutes.

Ok, three minutes.

Oh for the love of...

Yes, it's every 30 seconds, but that's only between the hours of 9 and 5.

Definitely one of your top ten posts of all time.

graywave said...

Wait a minute. Who are you to validate my need to need? You're not a publisher!

Jake Nantz said...

I agree with Fiona, that feeling is SO worth it all. I'm in the same boat, finding out that one of my short stories is going to be published for the first time ever! It's a GREAT feeling.

And the rest of the post? OH so true. It's pitiful that I get excited when someone other than me has clicked over to my blog. But you know what? Joe says it's okay, so IT'S OKAY!!!!

Wonder if any one has commented since I clicked over here...maybe I should go check...again....

JA Konrath said...

Thanks for the kind words, all.

Steve--Bouchercon was fun. Everyone says I had a good time.

Fiona--I agree, the byline makes the obsessing worthwhile.

Gray--Now I'm validating your comment about your need to need. This is a slippery slope...

jnantz--Okay, I'm replying. So now you need to reply so I don't have to keep checking back.

Jake Nantz said...

You tricked me! You said you were replying, I thought you meant where I was talking about comments on my blog, and I went over to check. That's just evil.

Okay, not evil, but inner child is crying right now!

(not really, but here's my comment that validates your comment that validated my comment which was meant to validate your blog post)

Anonymous said...

A place to be needy together -- great!

Hope you had/are having a blast at Bouchercon.

Chicki Brown said...

You won my "I Love Your Blog Award!" Drop by

Jim said...

Joe, If you "need" a one minute distration, go here.

Katie Alender said...

Funny, Joe!

Occasionally I'll find myself sitting at the computer feeling like there's something I "need" to do, and then it dawns on me that I want to go see if I got any replies to my comments.


Jude Hardin said...

Everyone masturbates.

I love Chuck Palahniuk's story about it.

Stacey Cochran said...

I refuse to accept the premise that I'm needy. It's impossible. All I do is give, give, give.

By the way, would you watch my book trailer and tell me that you like it?

ssas said...

I think successful writers have to have that "celebrity edge" which, in layman's terms, is neediness. We want to be heard, read, and photographed. :) Embrace it!

ssas said...

Oh and congrats to all the first pubs out there. As an editor, that's my favorite sort of author to work with!

Anonymous said...

Oh shit. I thought my neediness was a deep dark secret.


I guess I needed to hear this, didn't I?

Steve Vernon
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Anonymous said...

"Everyone picks their nose. Everyone masturbates. And all writers are needy."

Gotta love those universal truths! Good to know I'm not the only one. No, wait, that's not what I mean...

jamiegrove said...

Some people study Psychology in college because they want to find out what's wrong with themselves, writers get English degrees because they already know what's wrong and they want to figure out the best way to tell the whole world about it. :)

Awesome post!

Anonymous said...

That was FAR cheaper than $75 an hour therapy. Bravo!!

Ace said...

Thank you.

I really needed to hear that.

GreenWillow said...

Congrats! You've got a new fan.

I'll be back to check on comments to this comment.

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