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Monday, March 25, 2013

Expectations: Help or Hinder?

I don't know about you, but I try to practice what I preach. Of course, sometimes it's easier said than done. I tell my daughter not to expect things. Go into a new experience with an open mind, make the best of it and let it play out the way it's supposed to. It's kind of like going to a movie. Don't you hate when you go to a movie that you've heard glowing reviews about and you leave thinking "meh?" But when you go to a movie that you know nothing about and end up having a great time, you get so happy you feel like you might smile for hours?

Take our careers for instance. We all strive to be the best we can be (in an author's case, to write the best book we can every day), but how do our expectations help or hurt us? If I expected to be a NY Times Best Seller, I might be waiting my whole life, not to mention be hugely disappointed if I never made it there. That might very well affect my writing which might affect future books. But if I go into a book, concentrating on my expectations for that ONE book and make it the best it can be and move on, then my expectations can be met (more easily). Let's face it, there are a TON of great books out there that never make lists for many reasons. Poor marketing, lack of promo...there are so many factors involved. Not to mention luck and timing.

I bring this up because in mid-March I attended the SoCalRWA Writers Conference and met Barbara Vey. I'd met her briefly years ago at an RWA conference, but never really had the chance to sit down and talk to her. Of course, I'd always (and only) heard lovely things about her and was thrilled to discover they are all true. She's fun and honest, very refreshing and I'll toss in delightful for good measure. (It all fits!) I was beyond thrilled when she asked to interview me for her Publishers Weekly Beyond Her Book Blog. What really floored me was her invitation to be one the authors at her Readers Appreciation Luncheon next April in Milwaukee. Talk about exceeding my expectations! (Of which, I should stress, I had none! BTW - Here is a shot of us after I moderated her workshop on Building Reader Loyalty.)

When you think about it, I have a conflict actually. How does my "no expectations" work with my publishing goals? I've been on this writer's road for thirteen years now and am doing the best I can to keep up with the job. (Sometimes it's overwhelming and sometimes it's pure bliss.) If I don't expect to make a list, but a list is my goal, then will I ever make it? I guess the answer is in the Universe somewhere...unless any of you can help me with it.

Let me know, what are your views on expectations vs. goals?

Dee J. Adams lives in Southern California with her husband, teenage daughter and 2 rescue dogs. Her Adrenaline Highs series is available at Carina Press and wherever e-books are sold.


Marcelle Dubé said...

Dee, I think you're on the right track. I try to do the best I can, too, with my writing, and not have expectations. It does make the delights more delightful and it seems to attenuate the disappointments. Sounds like Barbara Vey is a lovely woman. Clearly, she's a perceptive one!

Dee J. said...

Hi Marcelle,
Thanks! Truly, that makes me feel better. I was ready for the first comment to be something along the lines of "If you don't expect things they won't ever happen." But the opposite of that is too depressing. To "expect" things then have them "never" happen. If you ever get a chance to meet Barbara, do it. She's a gem.

Robin Bielman said...

Hi Dee! Thanks for this thoughtful post. I'd like to think it's all of our little accomplishments that make us successful and if something big and unexpected happens, well then great! Otherwise, we might forget to enjoy ourselves on this crazy, but wonderful journey. And you, my friend, have had many accomplishments!

Love the picture of you and Barbara and yay on your interview and luncheon invite! You rock. And Barbara noticed it. :)

Anne Marie Becker said...

For me, I think it's about keeping your expectations realistic, and then I'm pleasantly surprised when I exceed my expectations. :)

With each book that releases, I tell myself I simply want to write a good book that will please my current readers and increase my readership. The good reviews in well-known magazines and journals are bonuses, and if I happened to make a "list" I would be over the moon. Like you, it's a goal of mine, someday, or a milestone down the road, but I don't expect it.

Interesting post!

Veronica Scott said...

I like the serendipity when something I wasn't even thinking about suddenly happens, in relation to the books or writing! Fun post...

Samanthe Beck said...

I'm on the "Don't expect too much," side of the spectrum. But then I hear someone like Sylvia Day speak and I think...gotta set goals, gotta be confident and pull good stuff to me instead of just hoping it wanders over.

The answer is probably somewhere in the middle. :)

Rita said...

I agree about going into each new experience with an open mind. I do set goals. I expect to enjoy what I’m doing. I expect that I will do my best. I figure if people want to fall in line with me they will.

Jean Harrington said...

Dee J. Always expect the best! It's dangerous, I know, but live on the edge of expectation anyway. Your blog just proved good things do fall out of the blue.

Next is a movie contract for one of your books. Hey, it can happen: two writer friends of mine, Suzi Weinert and Heather Burch have both been offered options on their very first books. In fact, Suzi's The Garage Sale Stalkers is already in production as a Hallmark TV presentation. So there you go. I enjoyed reading your good news!

Robena Grant said...

I really believe in doing the very best that I can possibly do. Then I plant my seeds. I don't dig them up to look at the roots but just keep on going. My intentions are good and positive and the universe takes care of the rest. (If the time is right and all the stars are aligned, ha ha.) Now, if my seeds were not good, or I overwatered, or didn't fertilize...

Lynne Marshall said...

I agree, it is best not to think of expectations. It never works out the way you plan. Our goals can be more concrete though, like - finish the book! Begin the next one. What happens in between, as you've already hit upon, is pure mystery.

Wishing you much success!

Dee J. said...

Hi Robin,
You're so right. I don't want to lose sight or forget to enjoy the ride! We work so hard to get here that I think the pressure can get in the way if we let it. And thank you... I happen to think you rock as well!

Hi Anne Marie,
You and I think alike. I ditto all the things you said. I do the best can and everything after that is a bonus because I basically have no control over it. Glad you liked the post.

Hi Veronica,
I hear you on serendipity. (Kind of like how I wrote Danica Patrick before she even existed in the race world. That was so weird. But in the best way. I see her and I think of my heroine in Dangerous Race.) Thanks for stopping by!

Hi Samanthe,
I know... I hear very goal oriented writers talk about going after things and I sit back and think, I know I'm doing something wrong, but don't know how to remedy it! I think I'm one of those waiting for the good stuff to wander over. LOL. (I should probably fix that!)

Hi Rita,
Amen to that. I do expect to do my best and I think that's probably my only expectation. LOL. Here I am waving... fall in line, people. Fall in line. Haha. Thanks for stopping in!

Hi Jean,
Thanks! I'm just such a chicken and hate disappointment...whereas I LOVE the great surprises. As far as a movie... don't I wish. My first books are way too huge. They would be a massive budgets, but the third is possible. Need to pitch that sucker to the powers that be. LOL. Thanks for dropping by!

Dee J. said...

Hi Robena,
LOL. I'm in trouble. I have absolutely NO green thumb. I don't even know where my seeds are. Haha. Love our analogy though. I see good things in your future and you deserve them all. Here's to a very fertile crop!! Thanks for coming by!

Hi Lynne,
You are so right! It's a big mystery! Who knows what, why or how the universe works. What hits and what doesn't? It's a giant crapshoot. I want to roll 7s dammit! LOL. Congrats to you on #20 for Harlequin! Now that's a goal I can aspire to!

Wynter Daniels said...

I try to keep my expectations realistic too, but if I don't expect much of myself, I tend to slack off! It's a fine line.

Dee J. said...

Hi Wynter,
You are so right! I find that to be true of myself too. Just walking that line with grippy shoes and hoping not to slide off the wrong way! Thanks for coming by!

Kathy Bennett said...

What a great post and how cool to be invited to the April luncheon by Barbara.

I tend to have low expectations and then being pleasantly surprised when things go better than planned.

Dee J. said...

Hi Kathy,
Thanks! Yes, I was thrilled and shocked at the invitation. Not necessarily in that order. LOL. I'd say you've had some great surprises! I aspire to your success! Thanks for coming by!

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