Friday, April 9, 2010

Great Expectations

My excuse for not blogging this week? I'll borrow a quote from Ashleigh Brilliant: I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.

lol - it's just been "one of those" weeks. Too many essays, errands, classes, etc, and not enough time.

But, it's FRIDAY, so I'm relaxed and felt like blogging again...

Let's talk about expectations. Today, in my literature class, I lectured over a poem called "Living in Sin." There are a couple of different interpretations, but I prefer this one: a woman has just moved in with her boyfriend. She has high expectations, romantic ideals about what this "new life" will be like: "No dust on the furniture of love." She pictures a living space that cleans itself, a loving and romantic boyfriend, a happy life. But - reality soon hits, and she starts to see the cracks - the dripping faucet, the domestic duties, the roaches, the inattentive boyfriend who barely acknowledges her in the morning. The rose-colored glasses are stripped away and, if only temporarily, she sees the truth.

That poem can be applied, I think, to ANY situation in which we have certain expectations. Life is hard. It's never perfect. It's never as good as it is in the movies. Marriages can be tumultuous, parenthood can be incredibly stressful, and work can be tedious. Our youthful, rose-colored glasses are soon stripped away.

Relating this to writing and getting published, here's my personal example: When I was on the cusp of getting a magazine article published, I had the picture set in my mind -- I would receive the email or phone call from an enthusiastic editor who "LOVED!" my article and couldn't wait to publish it. I'd get paid a nice amount of money. The article would come out within a few weeks, maybe months. It would be available everywhere and many people would read it. Hmm. My expectations weren't met. At all.

After MONTHS of emailing back and forth with the editor multiple times, we finally agreed on the necessary changes/edits. So, when I got the "acceptance," it was extremely anti-climactic. Dare I say, matter-of-fact. Then, it took exactly 3 YEARS to see my article in print. And it took me 2 weeks to find it on newsstands. When I did find it, I saw that the article was highly edited and choppy. They'd even changed the title. So, though I was ultimately pleased to have a publishing notch on my belt, the entire experience sank well beneath my initial expectations.

What's the lesson in all this? Lower the expectations. That'll help soften the blow of the inevitable. Of real life. Of the query letters, the researching, the agents, the WAITING, the re-writes. Having been through all that, many times over, I'm now more realistic. And, sure, even a little bit jaded. But here's the thing -- the end-goal is still the same: my words, my work, in print, for people to see. That's still my target. So, if it takes years and disappointments and discouragement along the jaded path, it's still worth it to me!


  1. I find it amazing - and appalling - that the publishing industry is so slow. But yes, it's still worth it.

    Great post! I'm linking back to you.

  2. Thank you, Deb! Always appreciated!

    Yes, the wait is very appalling. In fact, I've got 2 other articles out (requested) and I haven't heard anything in nearly a year from the editors (even when I send polite inquiries). How do freelance writers make a living? They'd have to have hundreds of articles out at a time, I guess. Wow.

  3. I think this is all a 'fact of publishing life'.
    Writers can't 'wait'...they need to move on, to submit more, to believe in their abilities. I, too, experienced something similar...a 900-word interview query to one magazine resulted in an acceptance by another magazine, trimmed down to 300 words! SOLD!