Let’s kick this off with contrary thoughts:
My buddy William makes a good point. After all, if you’re perfectly happy to have pizza on the couch, imagine how you’ll delight in that lobster feast on the water, whereas if you spend all week imagining the succulent seafood and amazing company that awaits you, the event might not live up to the limitless boundaries of your imagination. Suddenly the butter isn’t hot enough. Or you get stuck next to Susan, who smells like smoke and talks too damn much. Or it’s so windy that you spend several minutes chasing down determined napkins. And even though none of those annoyances should be enough to ruin your evening, they are. Why? Because you built up a memory contingent on perfection, and that’s not life baby.
But Ralph is also onto something. If you don’t dream big, you’re assured a small outcome. That same imagination that landed you disappointed with the lobster feast enables you to conceive and pave the way for happier circumstance.
So William and Ralph’s wisdom each have their place. When it comes to the particulars of a night or a trip or a work day, high expectations can lead to heartache and disappointment. But when it comes to goal-setting and life-planning, high expectations are a pre-requisite for greatness.
In the writing world, this translates to having low expectations that you’ll secure your number one choice for an agent, but high expectations that if you continue to hone your craft you will someday be professionally represented. And after that, you’ll be served well to have no expectations regarding which specific house will take on your project, but high expectations that eventually one will. And after that, when your book has made its way out in the world, it behooves you to expect a one-star review and relish the fives.
Throughout this process falls rejection; a disease that has plagued writers from the earliest days of the industry. I come from a sales background, so I was a little more immune from being knocked down by “not-a-fit-at-this-time” notifications than some writers, but certainly not fully vaccinated. It’s one thing to be told a business is selecting a competitive networking company and quite another to be told years of personal effort fell short from a person whose work you revere. As I shared in an earlier post, my hardest knock was when I was fired by own agent.
Perspective cures rejection. I don’t want to go to a party I’m not invited to, so if my work isn’t a fit, it’s not to my benefit to force it, even if I had the power to, which of course I don’t. And I don’t need every agent and house to want to work with me; like a winning lotto ticket it just takes one.
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