K is for Kudos
For several months, I worked for an editor who communicated so little that I was always surprised when she asked me to do another assignment.
I assumed she wasn't really happy with my work. Maybe she asked me to write for her because she couldn't find anyone else. Or maybe she felt she had to use me since I worked for other editors at the same publisher.
One day after a little email exchange, she said she hoped I'd continuing working with her for a long time.
I was floored. I had no idea that she appreciated my work. Sure, I met every deadline. I suggested alternative sources or ideas when the original ones didn't work. Everything I wrote was published with few edits. And still, I assumed her lack of feedback meant something negative.
There's a scene in On Writing by Stephen King where he talks about handing over a manuscript to his wife. He's driving a car and keeps checking in the rear view mirror to see her reaction. She snaps at him to keep his eyes on the road and "stop being so needy."I think artists and writers are especially needy. The creative path has many rewards, but it also can be very lonely. Not everyone will understand what you're doing or why you're doing it. It's natural to want some reassurance along the way.
It's sad, but true: Most people won't tell you what a good job you're doing. It's much more likely you'll hear from the ones who think you did something wrong or that upset them in some way. And even sadder: the negative news is what we tend to hold onto and repeat to ourselves.
Don't assume that this only applies to ordinary people. Even minor celebrities—famous authors or designers—appreciate hearing when they've done something you admire. Author Carolyn See feels so strongly about this that she makes it an assignment in her writing classes for students to write what she calls a "charming note" five days a week. (She devotes an entire chapter to note-writing in her book Making a Literary Life.)
When is the last time someone congratulated you? Told you that you did a good job? Complimented you in some way? If it's been awhile, let me be the first to say: Kudos to you! You're doing a wonderful job!