This week I received a wonderful and unexpected email, praising in detail my novel, “Parallel Lines” which was published earlier this year. It made me realise how important it is to have some sort of recognition for work you have done. In the theatre, opera house or concert hall, the recognition is instant and the audience breaks out in applause at the end of the performance. If there has been a particularly successful evening there is a standing ovation or the sound of cheering and this can leave you basking in happiness for days. Of course the reviews may bring you down to the ground with a bump, but for that moment, at the end of your work, you will feel praised and recognised for all the hard work you have done and the risks you have taken.
No such instant applause is the lot of the unhappy novel writer. After months of toil with the writing and publishing, your work is exposed to the general public. http://www.janemcculloch.com/books.. There is no defining moment when the work is recognised. The approval comes in dribs and drabs. 5 star reviews are wonderful to have and any approval is of course very welcome, but that instant applause is something I miss. It really confirms that writing is a lonely business. At the end of a book, you put your pen down or take your hands off the laptop – and then nothing. At best you can pour yourself a large glass of wine and have a private celebration for having finished it.
This may sound a bit needy, but I am convinced that a pat on the back is necessary to us all. When a huge effort has been made, it is gratifying to have some sort of recognition. As a child I was never praised, even if I had done something quite good or made an obvious effort towards an achievement. In a weird sort of way I think it was thought that praise was bad for you. I don’t believe it is. It can build confidence and help with a lack of low self esteem. I have always gone out of my way to praise work that merits it. This doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be criticism as well. Constructive criticism is always good and should be graciously accepted. But keep on handing out the applause – it is very necessary particularly to those of us trying to be creative.