I'm taking a brief break from the Pitfalls posts to talk about a topic that came up in an email conversation recently.
Our expectations for our books. The expectations we have for our careers. What we perceive other people's expectations are.
When I wrote my first book, I had expectations. The first and the worst (at least in retrospect) was the expectation this book would be snapped up by agents and publishers, and it would hit the shelves within a couple years. I never expected it to fail. I had nightmares that once it did hit the shelves, people would come after me with torches and pitchforks - but that's a post for another day.
After my expected success fell apart, I expected my next book to fail just as miserably - so I tried to write it according to how I perceived other people wanted me to write a book. (i.e. I plotted.) That awesome idea for a novel failed before it even got out of the gate. Took two steps and broke its leg. No Derby win, no Triple Crown. Just a lot of thrashing in the track dirt. Can ya say 'self-fulfilling prophecy'? Knew ya could.
Anyway... expectations. They're not always bad. Sometimes they work out the way we want them to. More often than not, though, we fall short of the things we expected. Getting rid of them entirely, though, is impossible. As long as there are humans and a future, people will have expectations about what will happen in that unknown future. :shrug:
I don't know what the answer is. Perhaps we all should just learn to adjust our expectations instead of letting them crush us. My first book didn't get published, so I adjusted. My second book flopped, and I adjusted again. In some ways, over the past almost-nine years, I learned to squash that glimmer of expectation when I send out queries. (For the most part. Sometimes it still pokes it's little head up and gets slapped.)
And maybe that's why I haven't gotten much done in the writerly pursuit area. Sneaky expectations have been bombarding me. Only this time they're "I expect this idea won't work" and "I expect people are just going to reject this". Ugh.
So much for squashing the glimmers. Better luck next time.
How about you? Do expectations build you up or break you down?
(I screwed up and posted twice this morning, so if you missed the earlier post, please go read it: NaNoWriMo Pitfall #6.)