Posted by Lynne
If you think planting a rose bush will take thirty minutes, plan on at least an hour. If you think writing a research paper about the heart will take four hours, plan on eight. Managing expectations is a theme in the Griffin household this week, and I most certainly could have added in a sentence or two about my hopes and dreams for my forthcoming book.
Whether you're optimistic, full of hope or you simply wish to dream big, being positive is a critical ingredient to living a literary life. Believing good things are around the corner, or that you can write the great American novel or a bestselling parenting book is at times all you've got to sustain you amidst all the waiting, to say nothing of all the rejection. You wait for your revised novel to sing; to know you are done. You wait for an agent to read your manuscript, an editor to make an offer. Rejection slips come in the form of impersonal sentences, complimentary no-thank-yous and blatant encouragement--though just as a kiss is still a kiss, a no is still a no. The job description for writer should include a line in bold letters: Pessimists need not apply.
For some writers, the emotional work involved in maintaining a healthy outlook involves the daily exercise of pulling negative self-talk from the brain and dumping it in the recycle bin. I can't do it must be replaced with, yes I can. This is impossible, must become all things are possible.
While I've had my share of gloomy moments and faithless days, I'm a positive person by nature. I do feel blessed in this way, since I've had to pick myself up, dust myself off and keep persevering in the face of my share of obstacles. The trick for me, when it comes to managing my expectations though, is to sprinkle my dreams with a dash of reality and a pinch of practicality.
Maybe you're a writer who's too hard on your abilities and accomplishments, struggling with being positive enough to stay the course. Or perhaps like me, you dream big and hope large leaving yourself in the path of disappointment. For example, I know my book will gain the attention of some media, but if I envision myself situated on a comfy couch at Harpo Studios, I'm likely to think Good Morning Chicago is a let down. When in fact I would love to shout out, good morning Chicago.
The impressionist painter Henry Matisse said, "What I dream of is an art of balance."
If this is true--and I believe it is--then managing expectations is holding on to enough positivity so that you can persevere, and love the process, and be energized by all the possibilities. And yet, with enough realism to protect your heart, so you can get up another day to face the page.
What do you do to fear less and hope more, to doubt less and believe more? How do you manage expectations?
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Posted by Lynne