I have two sets of expectations I walk about with every day. Two completely different visions of the outcome of any given event. One is very reasonable. Moderate. My logic runs this expectation calculator:
This lasagne will be edible. The Six Flags trip might get rained out. The Wolverine is going to be so bad I’ll want a lobotomy afterwards.
You could even say this view is slightly pessimistic, as I enjoy being pleasantly surprised. I mean, the lasagne was excellent, actually; Six Flags was overcast, but dry; and yes, The Wolverine was quite bad but it wasn’t THAT bad.*
But I also have another set of expectations, born of an imagination I can’t control very well – and it occasionally gets me into trouble:
THE BOTTOM FLOOR OF THIS BUILDING IS A MUSEUM FROM THE FUTURE! THAT CAR IS FOLLOWING ME BECAUSE I’M ACTUALLY A SUBJECT OF PROJECT CHRISTMAS!** FAIRIES MADE THIS SOUP!
COME ON, YOU’RE TELLING ME YOU’VE NEVER HAD SOUP SO GOOD YOU KNEW FAIRIES MADE IT?
Well…there was that one time…
Ahem. Anyway. While I’ve managed to not go around claiming I’m secretly the third daughter of Irina Derevko (because you never know if SD6 is listening, right?)*** this wildly overinventive expectation center does succeed in sabotaging me in other ways.
When I put THE THIEF up for sale back at the end of June, I had a very carefully calculated anticipation of how it was going to go:
I am a totally unknown first-time author with no publishing connections. For the first couple of weeks, it will only be people I know who pick it up. I might get a few other downloads on account of it being free. I will go months before I sell even a hundred copies. I won’t gain any traction until the second, or maybe the third book. It’s going to take time. Lots of time. My work is good, but I have no money to promote it so progress will be slow.
Which is basically how things have gone so far. My moderate expectation was pretty spot on. So why do I have this immense feeling of dissatisfaction I’m carrying around? I think you maybe know where this is going:
I SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON MULTIPLE BESTSELLER LISTS BY NOW! EARNING ENOUGH MONEY TO QUIT MY DAY JOB AND WRITE FULL TIME AND MOVE TO A LARGE CITY ON THE NORTHWEST COAST! THERE SHOULD BE AWARDS! HANG OUT WITH NEIL GAIMAN! ASKED TO HOST SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE!
Come on, they’ll never ask a writer to host SNL.
SETH MACFARLANE DID IT! HE WRITES THINGS!
Among, like, a billion other things he does…
HIS MONOLOGUE WAS HIM TALKING TO HIMSELF! I’M DOING THAT RIGHT NOW!
See? The irrational side of my brain is just too convincing not to listen to. So even though the realistic side reminds me that we’re right on trajectory, the other side is flooding me with frustration that I haven’t been approached for television rights. Which, come on, is a ridiculous thing to think should have happened already. (OH, IT WILL.) I guess that’s just part of the deal. If you have a big enough imagination to invent a world and run it, you’re inevitably going to expect to do the same to the world you’re actually in. Which, spoiler alert, you can’t. I can’t just montage myself into the “success” stage. There’s actual work involved, and patience, and time. And chance. Chance is a big uncontrollable factor, but I prefer not to worry about things I have zero control over. I’d rather spend my energies on the things I can affect.
So, I’ll stick with the plan, and keep plugging away at THE DRAGON. And if (WHEN), you know, the New York Times calls, I’ll be over here. Convinced I’m actually a spy/witch/mutant/ninja.
*Not as bad as Wolverine: Origins, anyway. I mean, not many things are.
**Disclaimer: I may have been watching a lot of Alias lately.
***Spoilers, I end up with Sark.