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Validation & 20 Year Anniversary

20 years ago I self-published my first book, Silent Teardrops. I was 25 and just wanted to see my words in print. I also wanted to hear voices that sounded like the ones from my small southern hometown and see faces that felt familiar to me. Although my writing has grown significantly over the years, I stand on what started as a short story back in college, at the University of South Carolina, where Professor Greer told me I had talent.



"Silent Teardrops" book cover of woman wiping her eyes with green shirt on, and behind the drawing of the woman is a body of water with raindrops rippling across the page.
Original Silent Teardrops Book Cover - 2004

As I think back on the many things that have happened to me professionally over the past 20 years, below comes to mind:


  • I've worked in roles that have allowed me to grow skills in marketing, communications and writing.

  • I've been able to travel, move to different states and fund many of my creative projects.

  • I've had my poetry, short stories, photography and an essay published in literary magazines, exhibitions and an anthology.

  • I've been recognized by my peers with opportunities for fellowships, workshops and awards.


But a few weeks ago I was sharing a new poetry chapbook idea with someone and they asked me why I wasn't submitting my chapbook to be published more traditionally instead of doing it myself. That question made me pause and question my original idea. Sure going through a traditional publisher would be nice—actually I have another book that I am in process of trying to get published that way—but this project is different. Regardless of the details of the many creative things I'm pursuing, in that moment I felt that I needed more validation for my writing. As if the things I've accomplished and am still working towards don't mean anything.


I felt that if I did this my way it wouldn't be good enough in someone's eyes.

I've had a little while to think about the question and my internal response to it. We live in a world where validation is necessary. People look for in so many ways and most of the time it's fleeting when it arrives. I'm happy that I'm going to publish my own poetry chapbook. Not because I don't think it can win a contest or that the work isn't good enough, but because I'm specifically creating this to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of my first novel. I don't need approval, I don't need accolades. This is the way I've chosen to celebrate this milestone.


During 2024 I'm not just celebrating this milestone and the 15 year anniversary of for the LOVE, short stories an poems, vol. 1 with this chapbook, I'm also gonna be writing about lessons I've learned, my successes and failures and I will be sharing where I'm heading creatively.


Stay tuned because there is more to come on my upcoming chapbook that is being supported by the Prince George's Arts and Humanities Council.


Until next time...


Stay well!

writerjns



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