My parents will be horrified to learn that I read The Godfather when I was thirteen. It speaks volumes that I finished the book. Hey, it was in the house.

Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud. – Don Corleone

I’m sure a lot went over my head, but what I remember was that some people had confidence. They got things done. Other people worked very hard to make sure people saw them doing things. Internal and external motivations.

The need for validation drives people to do strange things. For certain people everything from theft to becoming valedictorian can be linked to someone needing external validation. Fifty-five percent of people answering the Objective Leader Assessment said their self-worth was often, more often or always tied to what others think. I’m not trying to justify anything here, this is just a data point. What I’m getting to is that I’m not alone in wanting to get told I’m doing well.

That brings us to what I’ve been doing for the past year.

You see, I was dutifully submitting short stories and receiving the dreaded rejections. Some were very terse, or worse, a form rejection. *gasp* Some were very positive. A couple even offered help in what to do in the future. When your idea of good is someone saying, “I can’t use this piece, but send me something else,” you’ve got a lot of self-cheering to do. Exercise helps.

But after a couple years, the rejections start to wear on you. At the same time, I went to the local college to tell them I felt the free professional development early childhood teachers are taking at the libraries was all lower level and didn’t foster true improvement in the professional career. The adviser I talked with very kindly gave me a scholarship to get my state certifications and learn at a higher level. My life was changed.

After a few classes, more in one quarter than they normally suggest for a returning student with a job and children, I realized that not only was I pretty good at this education stuff, but that it fulfilled that need for validation. I make mistakes, don’t get me wrong, and I still need to perfect aspects of my interactions, assessment and environmental creation, but darned if I wasn’t writing to a rubric and getting validation there.

With the knowledge that I was really good at something, I started my master’s degree in early childhood education. I can write the papers and meet the rubric’s goals like nobody’s business. I was way past quizzes and tests. But there wasn’t a lot of time to write original pieces. I set a goal of revamping one short story every month and submitting it to a Science Fiction Writers of America-approved periodical. I basically stopped even thinking about the novels.

So now I have achieved my masters degree and have several half-finished novels and the opportunity for a day job upgrade and more. I feel accomplished. Validated. So I should be ready to start the editing and submitting merry-go-round again.

I need to make time for processing feedback. I need to plan for down days, family illnesses, running errands and living in a house with visible floors. And my barn.

OK. Now that I know what the expectations are. . . watch me go. I’m going to put off more professional development for at least a year, and then we’ll see where things stand.