Acceptance means having your work counted as the real thing; approval means having people like it. --pg 45, Bayles & Orland*
Acceptance—feeling understood—is a hot commodity. Approval—being liked—is just as hot. The two words are often interchanged. But they are soooo not the same. It is easy to have one without the other. Think of the pop music one-hit wonders. The artists got approval, but no one really tried to dig deeper . . . or maybe the artist didn’t want to dig deeper. Either way, acceptance never happened. The publishing world has its fare share of one-hit wonders and authors who have a large following, but critics question the author’s literary talent. And, there are the authors who have undeniable literary acumen, but remain relatively unknown.
As a writer, I (and you) have to make peace with the possibility that acceptance and approval are not besties or traveling companions. I think this is definitely the case for beginning artist. It takes time and effort to truly understand someone, and even more time and effort to understand their art. Some artists achieve acceptance after a few pieces, some achieve it after death. Approval may be easier to come by because it often rests upon art work resonating with people on an emotional level. But, but there are no guarantees.
So what does this mean for me as I journey down the writing path? Well, it means I have to stay true to me. If I write what resonates with me, I allow others to see pieces of me. With time, some will understand what I am showing them, they will understand my worldview. Some will like it. Some will not. And that is okay. At the end of the day, my stories are what I create, they are what I do, they are one of the many ways I communicate with others . . . they are NOT me. Their acceptance or approval (or lack there of) does not define me, validate me, or take away from me.
*Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards of Artmaking)