I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Camels, hats and where's the validation? (i.e. tsk, tsk, ehow.com)

Okay, so this post is about validation. And this photo is from a ridiculously cute YouTube video called "Validation." It's embedded below. Sixteen minutes of sweetness. And if you're even the teensiest bit prone to happy tears, keep the kleenex nearby.

So, I have a new favorite website. And while I'd like to say it's because I have an insatiable curiosity and desire for knowledge, truth is, I just like to laugh.

Check it out: www.ehow.com.

Seriously, folks. Ehow.com provides step-by-step instructions on anything. And though I think said instructions truly are meant to be helpful, they're ridiculously funny, too.

Want to learn to ride a camel? Just click here and surprise, you've got all the help you need plus a nice dose of hilarity. From this entry, I learned a) camels are emotional (who knew?) and b) apparently it's very important to be confident when riding a camel...because they're sensitive and intelligent, you see. I'm sorry, but that's just funny.

Or, maybe you're like me and you wish you'd been invited to Will and Kate's wedding solely so you'd have a chance to wear a cool hat. But, even if you were invited, how would you choose a hat? No worries, ehow.com has the answer. Step one: Assess your head.

Uh, assess my head? Oo-kay. Messy hair. Sunburned cheeks. And, um, how long have I been walking around with flour on my nose? (Yes, I baked! No, I didn't burn anything this time.) I'm not sure how this head assessment is supposed to help me. Perhaps that's why ehow.com ranks the difficulty of these instructions as “moderate.”

Or, okay, here's a cool one: wish you could wow your friends with your crazy-awesome Thriller dance skills? Never fear, ehow.com is here. Best part of the instructions: “Drink lots of water during the dance. The moves are high energy and can be draining.” Yup.

(Please keep reading. There seriously is a point to this post...)

So, the other day I was looking for a gift for a writing friend, but I drew a blank at every turn. Not even Target – my faithful cohort in checking account whittling – came through for me. So I turned to my other faithful friend: Google. I typed in “gifts for writers” and where should Google point me? To yet another faithful ally: ehow.com. (Worried about my social life? Yeah, me too.)

On ehow.com, I found these instructions for picking out gifts for writers. And I have to say, my online advisor did okay. (Though, personally, I would have a really hard time getting excited over a flash drive. The bookstore gift certificate, however? Golden.)

But this time ehow.com left me feeling a little empty. They missed a biggie, see. One of the best gifts a person could ever give a writer?


Seriously, if there's anything a writer needs and craves, it's validation...affirmation...encouragement. We need to hear what we're doing matters. That we're not wasting our time. That even if we've backed ourselves into a corner plot-wise, conjured up cliched characters, written a snooze-fest of a scene...we've still got talent. Might be buried under frustration, but it's there – waiting to flex and mature.

We need to hear this stuff. Thing is, though, maybe we're not always going to. Maybe – even when our friends and family and fellow writers throw all sorts of encouragement our way – our own dissatisfaction or intimidation or confusion or moodiness or any manner of writerly angst fogs our minds and keeps us from hearing the truth. 

That's when we need Truth with a capital T. That's when we need to remember that our greatest validation, and our greatest worth as writers, doesn't come from the people around us (swell as they may be), but from the One who gave us our writing dream in the first place. Just by fueling us with creativity and a love for stories, God has set our course...offered his stamp of approval...his validation. Heck, we were validated before we wrote our first words...

So, writer friends, yeah, let's encourage others. Enjoy when affirmation comes our way, yes. But more than anything, know – deep down and without a doubt – that you are so totally, incredibly, awesomely validated by the most totally, incredibly, awesome Storyteller of all. And recognize it for the gift it is...even if ehow.com did leave it off the list!

Melissa Tagg

p.s. Under the photo above, I mentioned a YouTube video. My boss showed this video to our development team a couple months ago. Love it!


  1. I really struggled with finishing the rest of my second book. I did it the first time, so how hard could it be to do again. Uh, well, the second half of the book was a struggle because I strived to make my second book even better than the first. And then I was hit by a wave of self-doubt. Ugh.

    I just finished final line edits for my first book. The changes have been mailed back to my editor. Once they're approved, the book heads to print. Gulp. This is it. No turning back.

    However, while I had 25 pages left to review, I was hit with a humbling emotion. Wow, I wrote a book. I. Wrote. A. Book. God used little ole me to send a message to His readers. Humbling. That was the validation I needed. I prayed last night and asked God to use those words to touch at least one heart. I confessed my fear of bad reviews and asked for His strength and courage to face a new bend in a writer's journey. I know I stayed obedient to His calling in my life. That's the validation I needed to move forward and finish this second book.

    Great post, Melissa. I'll watch the clip later when I have time. :)

  2. I'm so excited to read BOTH your books, LJ. And I think it's awesome that you found your validation in God...yay...ummm...and I think between your post Monday and my own post today and your comment, I am almost getting the infusion of "This is possible!" energy needed to FINALLY get my second book done...

  3. I think all writers strive for validation. We work alone, usually, almost in a vacuum, and that little bugger that sits on our shoulder keeps saying, "This is no good...why do you keep doing this..."
    So thanks, Melissa for a great reminder of Who has already validated me!
    p.s. I would love a jump drive for my bd. lol

  4. Thanks, Pat. You know what's funny? I realized as I was writing this post that like half my posts all float around the same topic - God's good plan for our writing careers. Possibly I'm speaking to myself...over and over...hopefully it's not getting too repetitive. But I do think it's something we can't hear too often. While human affirmation is good, God's validation is even greater...:)

    I love that you'd love a jump drive...:)

  5. Loved your post, Melissa! You are so right, we can receive valdiation from people, but it doesn't always assuage the doubts and fears that lurk within the depths of our heart. What a relief to know that God validates us. That He knows the plans He has for us on this writing journey and that He holds us in the palm of His hand. Why? Because He loves us so much. What a great peace comes over me when I find my affirmation in Him! Thanks for that great reminder!

    Oh. And go do it. Go finish that second book! That way, when I get to that point, you can help me along. :)

  6. Melissa, I loved this post, which I stopped to read in the midst of packing for a cross-country move. I still haven't boxed up my writing desk yet, but I betcha I take slips of paper tacked along the walls from my writing buddies that validate my writing. Though they're not framed art, they're priceless.

  7. I've seen the Validation video before. It's one of my favorites. I should probably watch it at least once a week.
    Psalm 115:1 is one of my life verses: Not to us, not to us, O LORD, but to your name be the glory.
    It keeps me focused on why I write. And it reminds me that my validation comes from God--and isn't based on how many people follow me on Twitter or FB or on my blog.
    God created me to be a writer (I truly believe that) so I'm fulfilling his call on my life when I write.

  8. Thanks, Jeanne! Loved your comment because you tracked God's validation back to His love for us...awesome!

    As far as finishing the second book, I could totally do it if somehow someone could add a few extra hours to each day! :)

  9. Oh, Roxanne, thank you for taking time out of your packing to read. I am beyond excited for you...and for your kids, too! And for Steve! Such an exciting time for you all...praying for ya and wish I could be there. Maybe I'll throw some rice or something on your wedding day back here in Iowa...:)

  10. Yes, isn't it just the sweetest video ever, Beth? I love it...great verse, too!!

  11. You're right! That video is great! I loved it!
    Thanks so much for sharing it with us!
    And ehow sounds great, I'm going to have to check it out!

  12. So happy to spread the video joy, Faye. Thanks for stopping by. And yes, definitely check out ehow...ask for help on anything and you'll probably find step-by-step instructions complete with ridiculously obvious and entertaining information!