Expectations

It’s been a long time since I posted. Vacation and general business has kept me…well, busy. Generally, this is a post about writing and I struggle with taking the time to write or taking the time to write about writing. You’d think, since I’ve been staying away from the blog so long, that I’d have plenty of fiction to show for it. I laugh at your expectations!

Actually, expectations killed my writing over the summer. They were honest expectations, of course. Last summer, I had an incredible writing experience. Eight short stories in nine weeks. I hit the desk even though I was busy. I wrote through two weeks of teaching (the class was from eight to two everyday, but I still managed to write) and a ten day trip to Seattle, where I managed to write, and a week long trip to Virginia, where I managed to write. The stories were solid; messy but solid. I worked all fall and winter on revision.

I expected to write the same this summer. Crankin’ out lots of words. I had a project and a goal for the work. What happened? Who knows. Fickle muse, I suspect. I did spend the time at the desk, but the work was like pulling teeth.

Partly it was the subject matter. I spent several weeks worried that I was writing simply because I thought I could sell a zombie book. My “artistic honesty” was at stake. This is a blog, so you can’t see the sarcasm dripping from those words. But it’s there, believe me.

Partly it was me being disappointed in my own writing. It’s supposed to be easy to write genre stuff, right? I figured anyone could crank out a zombie book. I figured I could write this thing quickly. Turns out, I can’t write anything quickly. Turns out, the zombie craze may be over before I get this done. Turns out, a whole mess of literary writers are publishing zombie books this fall, so what’s the point. Oh, the futility.

Partly, I’m still mourning the last manuscript that I couldn’t sell. It’s silly that I can’t let it go. It was a strange book and I have a feeling it was more for me than anyone else, but I really like it and every time I sat down to write about zombies, I felt like I was writing down from that book. I was trying to make the book as solid on as many levels as I could, but I couldn’t help feel that The Aurora Project was dead in the water so what’s the hope for Apocalypse Nation?

But mostly, it’s the weight of my own expectations. Today, for instance, my last day of creative freedom. Or at least the last day in which I might theoretically devote all of my time to this creative project. I expected too much. The daily life of chores pushed forward and I relinquished the time I had at the table to do those things. That’s my fault. It’s nothing that other writers don’t deal with every single day. But I expected something different and if I’ve proved anything to myself in my years trying to write, it’s that whatever I expect my writing life to be like…is wrong. The idealized writing life–the writer I’ve always imagined myself to be–doesn’t exist. The only writer that exists is this one. The writer I am.

 

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3 thoughts on “Expectations

  1. I bet most writers aren’t also full time dads, teachers, softball coaches, and caregivers for an 85 year old man! On this day, you have written.

  2. That’s part of the trouble, I suspect. I think most writers are dads (or moms) and workers and etc etc. That’s what I mean though. I’m just the writer I am. If I wanted to be John Cheever, I suppose I could ignore everyone and everything. But I’m just me. I didn’t write today. Not really. I started a paragraph, but then… life. Off to school.

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