In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In My Words: The Lure of Legitimacy

For the past decade, I've set goals.
Attend conferences.
Pitch articles.
Deal with rejection. (Repeat.)
Be published.
Pitch a nonfiction book idea.
Be published.
Gain an agent.
Become a magazine editor.
Try my hand at fiction. (Was I crazy?)
Land a fiction contract. (Can you say gobsmacked?)

I've accomplished many of my goals. Not all of them--but quite a few--and even a few that surprised me. Why, then, do I still struggle with feeling less than legitimate? When will I stop striving? It would be oh-so-nice to look at my resume and say, "Enough."

The writing life is one of measurements. Are you published? Where? Did you get a byline on that magazine piece? Were you paid in dollars or author copies? How many articles have you written? Dozens? Hundreds?  How many books? Been on TV? Radio? How many people do you speak to on a regular basis? How may people follow your blog? Your tweets? Your Facebook comments?

I can always peer ahead and see others who are bigger "names" than me. Focusing on who they are and who I'm not undermines my confidence. I can also look back and find at least one someone who's not as far along the writing road as me. That makes me feel better.

What a way to live.

Why do I write? To prove something? Yes, sometimes I'm trying to prove something. To myself. To those voices in my head questioning my value. To whoever is watching me, evaluating me, and finding me wanting.

But before I ever put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, I should know that I know that I know that I have inestimable value. Why?

Not because I say so.

Not because you say so.

Not because a reader or reviewer says so.

Not because a publisher or editor says so.

I have value--legitimacy--because my Creator loves me. It's as simple--and as difficult to grasp--as that. He made me in his image. He has plans for my life--and those plans include writing. He also knew writing is a tough-on-the-ego pursuit when he fashioned within me a writer's heart.

Here's the conclusion: What are you setting your sights on: your goals or your worth? Goals come and go. Some you hit. Some you miss. Value, when you realize what you're worth in your Creator's eyes--that's constant.

Photo by kikashi/

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At 8:03 AM, Blogger Deborah said...

Hi Beth, I just came across your blog today. I actually googled "the lost art of silliness" and came across an article you wrote in 2005. Glad to see you are still around so I can tag along. I like what I'm reading!

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Hi, Deborah! Well, today wasn't actually a silly piece, but I'm glad we connected!

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Cecilia Marie Pulliam said...

Beth, your words certainly hit home. We all question our net worth and yet that is the last standard we should use, as you pointed out so well in this post. Thank you for the encouraging words. Blessings to you and on your writing.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Sarah Forgrave said...

Yes, such wise words, Beth! God took my family through some tough situations recently that reprioritized everything for me. I don't want to go back to the numbers paranoia, but I'm sure it will's inevitable in the writer's life, right? I'll return to this post when that happens. :)

At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Gloria Rose said...

ah, so so well said, Beth. A drink for my soul. (Have I told you lately--I love, love your writing :)

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

This post was written after discussing legitimacy with my son, who is also a writer. We both struggle with the whole "Am I a real writer yet?" question.
One day I'd like to finally wrestle this question to the ground and get it to say, "Uncle!"
But I have a feeling it's one that will keep coming back for another round.

At 3:25 PM, Blogger Melissa Tagg said...

Love, love, love this post, Beth! My mom is amazing about reminding me where my worth comes thankful for that...and for your reminder, too! Hugs - M-Tagg

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Patricia said...

I told my writing mentor recently that there is something deeply satisfying about doing what you know you were called to do - especially when we put our stuff "out there" and trust God to do with it as He wills - but I'd be dishonest if I didn't also admit that getting that check in the mail (no matter how small) is awfully nice, too! =)


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