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Sunday, 14 March 2010

Great Expectations

I have great expectations.

As a writer, I expect to have my work read and enjoyed.  If I make some money at the same time, then all well and good but no big deal if that doesn't happen.

As a runner, I expect to run further and faster each time I set foot on tarmac.  If I'm not able to, I expect that I'll have a sufficiently sound excuse for my deficiencies (too many cars to dodge, adverse weather, too many drinks the night before etc.)

As a food lover, I expect a restaurant with a big reputation to deliver quality and something to remember.  I'll come back to this later.

Some expectations, of course, are doomed to failure from the outset.  I expect my football team to win every game they play, but the facts (and history) clearly indicate that such a feat is virtually impossible.  A win once in a while would be nice, though.

But some expectations seem almost so likely - so sure of being realised - that the realisation that the result hasn't turned out right ends up leading to acute disappointment.  Many writers out there (in fact, all writers at some point or other) will be familiar with this sensation.  I have a nice pile of rejection letters from various agents that I like to keep as a reminder of the folly of too many great expectations.

However, this is not strictly a writing-related post today.  No, I'm writing about great expectations to ease the disappointment I suffered this week at the hands of a restaurant (much frequented by celebrities with more money than sense) that appeared to have such a high opinion of itself that it had actually forgotten the one thing that make a restaurant a good restaurant: good food.  Fame (infamy) from its much-vaunted reputation in the press had clearly gone to their collective heads and in a very self-congratulatory environment we were served food of a standard that even I, in my inept style of cooking, wouldn't serve to my dog (if I had one).  Well, that's an exaggeration, perhaps - the food was fine, average, about what you'd expect in a fair-to-middling pub, but when you're paying (well, someone is paying) a decent whack of money there's an expectation that the meal will be memorable for all the right reasons.

A case, I suspect, of the emperor's new clothes.  And I suspect that it won't be too long before they get found out for what they are.  Especially if I keep telling everyone not to go there...

And such is the danger of expectations.  When people expect great things and end up with something only average at best, then reputations can very quickly be eroded.  In music, a great first album from a band is often followed by a second album that is less well received and then the record label decides the band is past it and cuts them loose.  The same, I suppose, probably applies equally to authors who suffer from second book syndrome.

Which, then, leads me to my question(s) of the day...

How do you handle disappointment?  When you've reached the stars but are now falling down to earth, how do you soften the blow?  How do you point yourself in the right direction once again?  And have you ever suffered from the second book syndrome?  And if so, what next?

I look forward to your comments.  I expect to read hundreds... ;-)

Thanks for reading.

p.s. to those you provided comments to my previous post, you may be pleased to know I am writing again -- not necessarily anything of quality, but writing nonetheless.  Thanks.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

"Writing", right?

Some interesting selections on the Margaret Atwood suggestion front (see previous post's comments).  I will be visiting a bookstore in due course to peruse and choose.  I will let you know what I acquire.

That aside, this week has reminded me, once again, of the trials of being a writer (at least, a writer of sorts).  And for me, this boils down to one or two things: firstly, distractions (of any kind); and secondly, life just getting in the way.

I've been sitting (not literally) on a novel idea for the best part of four months and have so far done little more than sketch out the rough premise, type up ten or so pages of the first chapter, and then... well, that's it basically.  Other things - the aforementioned distractions and life - got in the way and then some months flew by and now - boom - here I am, typing this up, and distracting myself yet again...

Anyway, point is, there is no point really.  This past week I have just been contemplating the slippage of time, bemoaning my inactivity on my latest creation (amongst a myriad of other half-started ideas), and now I'm mulling over the first step to getting back to work.

I can't imagine I'm alone in this malaise (for lack of a better word) so for those of you out there who have broken out of the habit of letting time slip by I ask the question, how do you handle the distractions (the "life") that gets in a writer's way?

Any answer will be gratefully received.


A frustrated "writer"