Writers expect good news … any day now. Is it the curse of eternal optimism? There is this hope within each writer that it will be their manuscript that is chosen for publication. And the money will rain on them like a spring shower.
Despite the odds.
Despite the competition.
Despite the cynical, horrible, no-good, very-bad agents who review them.
Are these expectations realistic? Of course they are. It is the essence of hope. For without hope there is no reason to continue the pursuit of the craft. You have to believe that you have what it takes.
Are these expectations practical? Of course not. Who said the writing profession was practical? I had one client calculate her per-hour earnings and discovered her wage was less than half of the current minimum wage. It is like nearly every aspect of the arts (music, dance, design, painting, theater and writing); monetary compensation can be elusive.
I prefer the word anticipation instead of expectation. The difference is that if we anticipate good news, we are happy to receive it. But if we expect good news and don’t get it, then the disappointment can be terrible. It is a subtle difference; but one of the keys to surviving the soul-crushing writing profession is to manage your expectations and instead focus on the joy of anticipation.
My encouragement to you is to keep working hard. This industry can be tough, but if you learn to wait (click here) and prepare properly (click here), you will have earned the right to allow for the anticipation of good news coming your way.
[An earlier version of this post ran in December 2011.]
Yes, that is the higher cause. It is totally irrational, in human terms, and so hard to justify to others, because it is not my faith but the faith of Christ in us that drives us along such improbable roads.
I so witness with that. The presupposition of all other behaviors is that approval comes from men, but that inclines us to compromise our message for the sake of human approval. Somewhere along the the long, winding road, we need to reach a higher reason for doing what we do, else we will serve neither man nor God.
Steve, the link in the “”but if you learn to wait” (Click Here) is broken. It leads to a 404 page. Just wanted to let you know. Loved this article. I know a writer better love writing for the sake of it or they will quit at the first signs of rejection. Great post. I liked how you pointed out the subtle difference between anticipation and expectation.
Sharon K Connell
Steve, I got the same thing when I clicked on it.
Great explanation of the difference between expectation and anticipation. I think one thing I’ve done is simply foolery. Thinking I’ll hear when I’ve not submitted. There is no fairy that will knock on our doors to announce, “I know you never submitted your proposal, but I just know you have something of value sitting in your office/on your computer. Today is your day!” Thanks for the reality check.
Damon J. Gray
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor. 4:17)
Totally wrenched from its context, but I feel better now.
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D
Steve, when I hear the word “anticipation,” I think of ketchup. Too many commercials, I suppose. I am, however, all about “hope.”
Far past writing, in life with cancer what I have is the Alamo-expectation of bayonets glinting at the top of the wall in the morning sun.
My optimism is that I will acquit myself well, and will meet death like the Irish mercenary of old,
“…with a song in my heart
and a sword in my hand.”
One could do a whole lot worse than arriving in Heaven dripping honest blood on the Streets of Gold.
God bless you for your courage and faith!
Thank you so much, Catherine.
Patti Jo Moore
God bless you, Andrew. You are amazing.
Patti Jo, I’m honoured.
Ruth A. Douthitt
Thanks for the encouragement! I have almost quit this writing business several times over the last 8 years, but every time I want to quit, some words of encouragement come along, or I find out I’ve won an award, or Amazon informs me people are buying my books. I always say a prayer of “thanks” to the Lord for the encouragement.
God used you, today, to build me up.
Thanks, again! It’s all part of the waiting…
Steve, I love how you differentiated between Expectation (which I’m sooo good at, unfortunately) and Anticipation (which I’m not as good at, unfortunately). But it seems like the key to being able to manage expectations and choose anticipation is to decide where my focus is . . . when I’m focused on a bigger purpose for “my” writing, when my eyes are on my Creator more than on what I want, it’s easier to anticipate.
You’ve got me thinking . . . thanks for that!
Hi Steve, I’ve believed Psalm 5:3 my whole life, “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” I do expect answers, but as Dr. Charles Stanley once said, God answers three ways, yes, no, and wait. The problem I have is not the expectation but the timing. I have been impatient while waiting for an answer, but I’m working on it, learning how to “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14.
Patti Jo Moore
Thank you, Steve. Great encouragement on this Monday!
My husband has been known to call me “Cinderella” because he said I want everyone to live happily-ever-after. My response is “Of course I do!” 🙂 I’m happy to be an optimist.
Blessings for a wonderful Christmas season, Patti Jo
L. K. Simonds
Reading the older posts you linked to, and the comments to them, instantly made me wonder where some of the writers are who used to frequent the blog. I saw a few familiar names, and many others who weren’t. Wonder if they’re still writing?
I guess this thought came to my mind because discouragement tends to make me wander away from a project. I may not officially quit, but I’m likely to become distracted by other things and just let it go. That’s happened to me with writing before. It’s really hard to stick with it when I’m not waiting for something more specific that my ship coming in.
So, waiting for the types of things you mentioned feels like momentum.
LK, for what it’s worth, I’m still here, and will be to the end. MY end.
My writing is no longer for me; it’s to get the message across with every bit of urgency I can muster that even facing cancer (two kinds, for me), and even when the days become absolute crap (yes, sometimes literally), there is still a point in living, and the purpose of everything is Love.
God’s love for us, and the love that flows through us to others…our fellow writers, and everyone else.
I fight despair every day, yeah. There are days I really DO NOT want to write the blog that chronicles this fall into what seems like enveloping darkness.
But I believe, with everything that was ever in me, that the darkness gives way to light, and if the only way I can try to convince others that this all means something,life and death and pain, that there really is a Light…well, if it wrecks me, so what.
I won’t quit. Even if I’ve only reached one person, or NO ONE, I won’t stand down.
L. K. Simonds
Semper Fi, Brother
Few things are scarier or more depressing than watching someone fall apart in the face of illness and death. “Is that all I have to look forward to?”
Conversely (inversely?) … few things give more courage and peace than watching someone face illness and death with the hope of glory. “Will I be this courageous in my final battle?”
So it matters, a lot, that you are doing the second thing. Thanks for doing it. It really does make a difference to God’s kingdom.
You ask a good question. There is a natural cycle of those who comment.
We lose a few subscribers and gain a few subscribers each week. Then there are others who only go to blog as a direct url address. Then some may comment on the Facebook feed where the blog is reposted.
Not all who stop commenting stop reading. Sometimes it is a simple matter of time.
Stay encouraged. This is not an easy calling. If it were easy, anyone could do it. That is why it is called “work.”
L. K. Simonds
What Steve said, and not everyone is able to comment on every post. This last week or so, I’ve had very little time to be online.
On 11/6, friend-husband fell over a cat at the farm and broke his patella necessitating several medical appointments.
On 11/25, I wrenched my back severely trying to put trash in the dumpster.
And last Saturday, our daughter who moved home to take care of the old folks fell on an icy ramp and broke her ankle, both tibia and fibula with breaks running into the joint. So tomorrow we see another orthopedist. Since we live in a very small town, specialists are thirty, or sixty, or ninety miles away.
Life happens. (wry grin)
Oh, Judith! You’re in our prayers.
Thank you, Andrew. You remain in my prayers as well.
These problems are more nuisance value than anything. Simply a pain in the kazizzie. Friend-husband’s patella is healing well according to orthopedist from yesterday’s check up. Still two more months on limited exercise and taking it easy.
My back was improving significantly when this all happened and has set back a little from the added insult to injury. But it’s getting better. Except that by evening, I’m slightly miserable.
We’ll find out more about daughter at the ortho appointment tomorrow. I’m sure it will all be fine eventually.
Judith, to paraphrase Julian of Norwich, I’m gratified that all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.
I do appreciate the prayers. Been running a fever for weeks, and it’s a bit hard to breathe.
Oh, Andrew! Prayers redoubled. I don’t like the fact that you have constant pain, fever, and breathing difficulties.
Breathe on him, Breath of God, and fill him with your grace and power.
Judith, I figure that if it’s got to happen to someone, it may as well be me.
I take comfort in the thought that because I am facing this, maybe someone else doesn’t have to. That comfort can take me through a lot of days.
You are a constant source of inspiration, Andrew. We are blessed to have you in our cyber lives.
Like you, I return time and again. Each agent/blogger is encouraging with words I always seem to need to hear ‘that day.’ Tons of teaching, good resources, and endless kindess extended to those of us never published, but praying to be.. these are things that bring me back more than any other blog. In the harsh world that can be so dry, this blog is like fresh water. And maybe a cheeseburger.
I agree with you, Steve, as I wait in anticipation for that encouraging phone call. However, should the opposite occur, yes, I’ll be disappointed, but I won’t let it stop me from pursuing my love of writing. It’s all in God’s timing. Thank you for this post.
amen! I use the opposite for a teaching opportunity. Failures are practice to success. Perhaps that’s a platitude in ways, some of us will never be published–I am thus far in that category.. but this is a passion to write, and so I hope and pray, and amen, in God’s timing.
I used to send off each query with anticipation. Now, it’s something approaching learned helplessness. Like the fleas in the famous experiment that wouldn’t jump out of the box even after the lid was removed.