I've been trying to sort out a lot since releasing Finding Meara and joining the race for writing success, and I'm finally to a point where I want to share another tidbit of my quest for sanity in the crazy business side of writing. I'm sharing this only because someone might relate to my feelings/thoughts. I'm not saying everyone has to feel this way or embrace my thinking. This post is about how I've changed to better cope with the highs and lows found in putting your work out there for public consumption.
Last week Sarah Callender wrote a wonderful, totally relatable post on Writer Unboxed called Becoming a Roses-Smeller. She talks about enjoying the writing journey instead of focusing on the end goal of writing success. What I especially appreciated about the post was this quote:
"The funny thing? I knew it would be tough to get published. As a no-name without fancy connections or credentials, I was aware the odds were small and low. I knew this.
But I was someone who Accomplished Goals. I was a High Achiever, a Hard Worker. When I got my first agent four years ago, I really and truly believed my hard work and goal-accomplishing would result in a book deal... I had done my 10,000 hours of practice, and while getting a novel published was hard, I figured it was hard for those who hadn’t worked their tails off."Why did I appreciate it so much? Because it's almost identical to what I thought when I self-published Finding Meara. I said all the right things (and believed them, too) but my thoughts also went something like: Sure it'll be hard. But I'll be different. I'll be amazing! I'll be fantabulous! Watch out world, here I come!
And then, when things didn't go as I expected them to, I had a bit of a reality crash. What did it mean that my expectations weren't met? If I changed my expectations, did that mean I was giving up? Was I letting go of expectations or letting go of my dreams?
It didn't stop there, either. I'm ashamed to admit this, but my own sense of self was wrapped up with being "more" and "different." I wasn't sure, when my expectations floundered in the mud, if I could be just me in the world. The social worker, mother of two, wife of one. Forever, and nothing more.
That's about when I wrote the It's Just Books post. I was struggling to figure out exactly what it all meant. I also struggled hard against changing my expectations. If I didn't have the expectations that others did for my writing (selling X amounts of books per month, having X blog visits, etc...) it felt like giving up.
One night I was thinking hard on all the dreams I've had in my life, and it occurred to me that the only dreams that have come true is marrying my husband and having my kids. And I realized that, as far as dreams come true, those are two pretty good ones, and if those are the only dreams that will come true in my life, I had to be pretty grateful.
Then Thanksgiving free days happened, and I rode the emotional roller coaster up that little incline, and then I got a couple of three star reviews and rode the emotional roller coaster back down, and then I got a couple of five star reviews and back up I went... And somewhere along the way, I decided I had to embrace being nothing more than me in the world, because the emotional roller coaster ride was taking away more than it was giving me.
Today on Twitter (because I really do like Twitter) I retweeted this:
I hope to be a good writer. I hope to write stories people will enjoy and relate to. I hope that I will find readers who enjoy my stories. I am willing to wait for the dawn to come, though, instead of expecting the sun to rise on my timetable. And if the dawn never comes, so be it. I will have been writing, and creating, and living, and loving the whole time - and so I will still be the winner.
How do you deal with disappointment and/or failed expectations? What do you hope for?