Monday, February 12, 2007

HOPE OR EXPECTATION: CONSIDER THE WRASSE

Lets consider the wrasse. This happens to be a saddle wrasse. He is patrolling the waters, looking for food.
He's voracious
If a diver overturns a rock and exposes a nest of writhing brittle stars, he's an opportunist and eagerly takes advantage.
With an intent expression he circles divers. Watching. Waiting.
Does he hope you will push over a rock and give him an easy meal?
Does he expect it?
It doesn't much matter because the wrasse is primed and ready to take advantage of any opportunity.
A hand that topples coral rubble. A fin that displaces tasty invertebrates.
And that's really the key isn't it?
Opportunity.
And being ready.
Being very very ready.

2:30 pm and 79 degrees.
"Did you expect this? I mean you must have known right?"
This is what people ask me. I have to think. Probe the recesses of my mind.
I have to be honest here.
No.
I didn't expect it.
I didn't expect anything but I hoped.
Hope versus expectation.
I've been thinking about this a lot. Did I expect what has happened so far?
No.
Did I hope it would happen?
Yes.
Am I successful yet?
It depends.
If my only goal was to get an agent then I suppose so. If I wanted my book sold, then yes I have achieved my goal.
If I want my book to be bought and enjoyed by readers, however, I have to continue to hope.
Expectations are tricky things. They create disappointment and arrogance. They can lead to dissatisfaction and a hard bitter focus away from being able to write at your best.
I did not set out to write commercial fiction. I did not analyze or plan or study. I had a story in my heart that had to be written. I had characters in my head that clamored to be given life. I had passion.
When it came to finding an agent, I was business-like. That is when I used my rational sense of purpose and ambition.
But the writing?
That came from my soul.
And I am humble.
Expectations and arrogance.
Those get you into trouble each and every time.
But gratification and hope?
Well they are my mantra. Like the wrasse. I am ever watchful for opportunity.

21 comments:

Anissa said...

Beautifully written, Pat. I love how you always bring it full circle. Back to the stunning photo.

Gratification and Hope. It's a wonderful mantra. I look forward to the opportunity to read your creation.

Kimber An said...

Gorgeous picture today, Pat. Loved it.

ChumleyK said...

Thanks for stopping by MY blog! I feel honored!

That's a gorgeous picture today. I love your photography. I've never had much success with underwater photos (although snorkeling with a disposable camera is probably not the right way to go).

ORION said...

So I pose the question. Do you feel hope with your writing or expectation?
Both?
Or neither?

Anissa said...

Always hope. More than anything I hope that I can get the story that's in my head onto paper in a manner that does it justice.

I have no expectations. If I can amuse one person, I will feel I've accomplished something. One person besides me, that is.

Holly Kennedy said...

When I'm writing, I'm primarily focused on satisfying my own expectations, which are set so high that I'm rarely ever 100% happy anyway. But if I see growth, I'm content enough to move on.

I'm always hopeful someone will read it and enjoy it, but I don't write a novel believing it's going to be a knock-out bestseller. I think it'd be much nicer to have success creep up on you when you're least expecting it!

Anonymous said...

I saw the cover and blurb and just LOVE it!!!
How terrific!!

I have lots of expectations, but mostly I'm cautious. I think most people think of success as a number one best seller and a million dollar advance - I think of success as looking back and not regretting the time I spent writing.
So far so good, lol.
Sam

ChumleyK said...

I dream, but I don't think I'm close enough to the dream to either hope or expect. If I finish something, then maybe I will hope.

Lisa, Amy, Hannah & Lynne said...

Hope and expectations.

I expect to set goals for myself and meet them. I hope others will have goals for me too and help me achieve them.

I expect to write the very best I can, paying attention to craft and language. I hope others recognize my efforts.

I expect to continue my writing journey, no matter the obstacles littering my path. I hope to meet others along the way and share the journey.

Great post, Pat.

Amy

Wendy Roberts said...

A beautiful post, Pat.

I like what Holly said, it would be wonderful to have success just sneak up and surprise you.

Most days I feel I'm in the trenches with my books and the words are fighting me LOL.

Therese said...

Wow, this set me thinking.

I can't think of a time when's I've felt any kind of expectation regarding writing or publication.

I'm continually astonished by every step forward.

Hope, though? I think that's what runs through my veins--little hope molecules coating the platelets.

Anne said...

Hope. Otherwise,why do we write?

Hope to write well the story I need to tell. Hope those who read what I write can apply my humble message, or feel better for having read it, or are amused, or introduced to a new thought. Whatever.

Avoiding expectations for now.

Kimber An said...

Hmmm, okay, I'm awake and I've thought about it.

I have no expectations.

Hope...I don't know. I just keeping moving forward towards my goals. Maybe hope is what propels, but I'm not sure. I think I'm just enjoying the ride.

ORION said...

Goal setting and expectations are two different animals IMHO. It is important to set goals i.e. small goals, (writing 100 words everyday) or larger goals (send queries out or attend a conference). Call me conservative but goals have to be attainable and in your control.
So...bear with me guys this is that competitive horse jumping sports psychology rearing its ugly head again (so to speak).
IMHO (again)
You can have a "dream" of getting an agent and
a goal of getting 30 queries out there in a year to try to achieve that dream.
To "expect" getting representation out of that is setting yourself up for failure...again IMO.
Even to "expect" yourself to write the very best you can may be self-defeating. Make it a goal...not an expectation.
Make being published a "dream" that you set small attainable goals toward.
Change expectations to dreams.
Then put DEMANDS on yourself to meet those goals.
Picky choice of words? Maybe.
Semantics?
Maybe.
But it could be the very thing you need to change disappointment into motivation.

Heidi the Hick said...

I'm very grateful to read this! There's such an uneasy combination of heartfelt and businesslike involved in getting something we wrote out there.

I have dreams of people reading my stories but in order to make it happen I have to be businesslike about it. I'm much better at dreaming but I have to get good at business! So I'm at the hope stage and working towards the expectation stage.

I know I can finish a novel and I know I can improve my writing. I've done it!

Y'know what? I'm making some expectations RIGHT NOW!
thank you!

Maprilynne said...

My feelings have changed since I was a new writer. I used to expect that readers would love it. After all, it was the greatest freaking masterpiece ever . . . right? And then I was outraged when people tried to point out problems to help me (I didn't see it as help of course.)

But about six humble pies later (not slices of humble pie, whole pies) and months of taking those suggestions I had scoffed and my outlook has turned around. I hope readers will like it, I hope agents will like it, I hope publishers will like it.

And if I get a great deal and it sells well, I won't be surprised. But I will be immensely grateful. If I get a medium deal and it sells okay, I won't be surprised. And I'll still be grateful. If it doesn't sell at all, I will be disappointed. But because I do nurture a great deal of hope, I suppose I would surprised.

I also think that expectation can go badly the other way . . . when you get into a rut of rejections and start expecting rejection. But really, that's a whole other subject.

Maprilynne

Michelle Zink said...

I think I have a modicum of both.

Hope, yes, that my passion for a good story will be something others can respond to and enjoy.

And a small amount of expectation that if one works very, very hard, if one DOES NOT give up, eventually, you can MAKE things happen.

It might not be with this book, or even the next one, but I firmly subscribe to the belief that seeing your work published is more sweat equity than raw talent.

If you are always writing, always fine-tuning your skills, always learning more about the craft, I DO have a small amount of expectation that someday, eventually, you will see your dream realized.

And I think you do have to believe. You do have to see it happening.

For the longest time, I just couldn't believe that I DESERVED to get what I wanted, you know?

Once I let go of that, once I reminded myself of everything I'd been through, of all I sacrificed, of all the hours and hours I spent (and still spend) trying to be better, a lot of the obtacles seemed to fall away.

So maybe there's such a thing as healthy expectation, i.e. the BELIEF that with enough work and commitment you can MAKE your dreams a reality, versus false expectation, which would be more like a sense of entitlement.

Hmmm... Good food for thought as always, Pat!

Demon Hunter said...

I feel hope, Pat. And you have given me more. Thank you!

bookworm said...

Yes, yes! I have expected nothing that has come my way in my writing life, and yet I've been hoping for it since I was a little girl. Your post makes perfect sense to me, and has helped me figure out these feelings, perhaps for the first time. Thank you~!

Patry Francis said...

We thought that publication was a destination, but it seems that it is just another gate.

ORION said...

Oh Patry you are SO right!
Hey I saw that Tess mentioned your book on her blog! How cool is that?