Over the weekend I caught a few minutes of a reality show on which drag queen/pop philosopher, Hedda Lettuce, was ordering a new costume from the show’s designer/star. He told her he was sure he could create something she’d love and she replied, “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.” It sounded like a adage from a 12-Step program, but then a light went on and I realized it was true. Nothing sparks resentment quicker than disappointed expectations, especially when you feel someone has dropped the ball or blown off something that’s important to you.
Maybe this is part of our problem as writers trying to get published. Every step of the way is hard—querying, getting an agent, waiting through the submission process, selling—and at every point we have expectations, not to mention fervent hopes. At first those expectations are high, but eventually they’re battered often enough to become far more modest. We hope for requests to come from our queries then expect responses to requests for full submissions. We hope to sign with an agent then when we do we expect to get her full attention and expect her to sell our masterpieces. This isn’t to say our expectations aren’t reasonable, they are to a point. But it doesn’t take long for those expectations to ferment into resentments when weeks and months go by and nothing seems to be happening.
When my agent sent my manuscript out into the world, a wise author friend told me, “You’ve done everything you have control over so let it go and work on your next project.” It was exactly the advice I needed. Instead of obsessing over the days and weeks passing without much news, I’ve parked my expectations and concentrated on making my WIP the very best it can be. Sure, some days I’m tempted to grumble—we all know someone who sold in a week and never looked back. Then I remind myself that I made this choice and the only person I should have expectations of is myself.