Laying Aside Expectations

Writing requires a lot of stubbornness.  It takes courage to write the words, one after another, without the guarantee that the finished product will ever see the light of publication.  It takes faith to believe that the writer’s story is worth the valiant effort needed to see it through to completion.

My three novels, ABERCROMBIE TRAIL, POMME DE TERRE, and BIRDIE were written before I found a publisher.  It was excruciating to keep working on them without giving up, and even more difficult to lay aside one to begin work on the next.  After all, there was no guarantee the next would be successful, either.

However, the good part about having three novels almost finished before finding a publisher, was that I was able to apply all my efforts to marketing once the first one was published  instead of being pressured to writer another novel.

Although the writing process is different (and shorter!)  for writing a poem or short story, the process still requires a lot of perseverence. For me,  my first pregnant thought of story bubbles up in my mind as an image–then I struggle to write the image down and flesh out the story around it.  Even a short-short story, as the one I finished and submitted to Talking Stick yesterday, requires hours of laborious writing and revision.

I suspect that different parts of the brain are used for writing and publishing.  For sure, it never works for me to try and use both of them at once. Becoming enmeshed with what might or might not happen to my piece after it is published actually hinders my first draft. Preoccupation with publishing brings out all the negative perfectionism within me.

I love this quote from Anne Lamott:  “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people.  It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a *&%*$ first draft.”

It isn’t easy to write while laying aside expectations, but it must be done.  Write that first draft, get it down, and don’t allow your mind to even think about what may or may not happen to your baby after it’s born.  Instead put all your effort and imagination into making your present work  the very best that it can be.

After all, my best work is ahead of me.  So is yours.


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