Expectation vs. Aspiration

Many moons ago, a wee little thirty year-old decided she was going to bite the bullet and start writing. She sat down at her computer, and every day for months (and many nights as well), she worked hard on her craft. She was going to be biggest, the BESTEST, writer ever -- no doubt about it. People were going to praise her for her work, agents would bow down to her brilliance, and books sales would be in the tens of thousands.

The wee little thirty year-old plugged away at her story, editing, changing it, even forcing friends to read it. (From what I've heard, she's quite sorry about the aforementioned torture.) Months went by, the book was polished, and she began to query.

What? She thought, as the rejections rolled into her inbox. (True, she stopped querying at around number ten, but still, the results from those ten queries were far from her expectations).

Expectations? Ah, yes, that is where we come in. For the poor little thirty year-old writer knew nothing about aspirations -- in fact, she dodged them whenever possible -- who needed such unnecessary contraptions?

And now, that little thirty year-old writer has become a thirty-two year-old one; and through her journey of more writing, more rejections and even more writing, she's come to learn a very valuable lesson:

Expectations can be killer, dear readers. They can make you up and quit doing what you love to do most when it becomes hard to reach them. But aspirations, yes readers -- those are the things of winners.

Let's take a moment to explore the difference between the two, shall we? (Whilst ignoring the fact that dictionary.com hates to be copied and pasted.)

Expectation (according to dictionary.com) - [ek-spek-tey-shuhn]

the act or the state of expecting: to wait in expectation.
the act or state of looking forward or anticipating.
an expectant mental attitude: a high pitch of expectation.
something expected; a thing looked forward to.
Often, expectations. a prospect of future good or profit: tohave great expectations.
the degree of probability that something will occur: There is little expectation that he will come.
the state of being expected: a large sum of money inexpectation.

Aspiration (also according to dictionary.com) - [as-puh-rey-shuhn]

strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition: intellectualaspirations.
a goal or objective desired: The presidency is the traditionalaspiration of young American boys.

See the difference in the meanings of those two words, my little grasshoppers? When you expect something, you pretty much know that it's going to happen without really preparing for it much. But aspiring is working toward a goal, a specific objective. And when you work toward something, you're going to do all you can to learn how to get that goal accomplished.

Now, let's put those two words to action. Expecting to get somewhere (without taking the necessary steps to do it right) lacks proper direction. I like to think of it as wanting to be an acrobat. Say I'm a decent gymnast. I can do a round off backhand spring, and I can do it well. But am I the best at it? Could I make it to the olympics based on my talent right this second? Probably not. Then why, for heavens sake, do I think that knowing how to do a few jumps on a balance beam will make me awesome in acrobatics?

As with most things in life, having expectations is completely natural. But we, as writers, need to make sure that our aspirations outweigh our expectations. It's important to remember that the only way to become great is to work on just that -- becoming great. And the best way to do that is by putting our aspirations ahead of our expectations.

I will close out this little life lesson, my dear readers, with an interesting quote.

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." ~ Henry David Thoreau

Did you see that? Did you see how Mr. Thoreau says "...he will meet with a success unexpected"? It reminds me of the quote "Build it, and they will come." Aspire to be what you want to be, strive to do it to the best of your ability, and, eventually, success will find you.

Currently inspired by: The Bravery - Believe


Andi said...

I love this! Not that this point needs a spin, but you have really reinforced the positiveness of working hard for something you really want -which is exactly what it takes - and you are on your way!

*oh btw way to reveal that thirty-two yr. old's age there - she's gonna kick ur booty for that one!* ha ha ...

Linda G. said...

Excellent post! So, so true. Love the gymnast analogy, too. Perfect.

Laura Pauling said...

Yes, unrealistic expectations can kill our confidence when we go to query. I always go in with low expectations but high hopes. I try my best but also know that this is a hard business to break into and it's so subjective!

Anne Gallagher said...

I love this post. And Henry David. Aspirations I think are what most of us thrive on. Expectations are what kill us.

Jolene Perry said...

LOVE the Bravery.

And it's SO true.
I remember querying my first book (totally was NOT ready - I did same as you, sent out like 10 and stopped)

Now I'm querying with some good feedback, but I'm still ready to accept that this also might not be the project to get me "in"

But, I'll keep writing...

Also, you should post a review on Delirium, if you want.
I've been on the fence in picking it up...

Janet Johnson said...

Love this post. Seriously. Exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you!

Little Ms J said...

Such a great post! I need these words right now....

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I wonder if there's something about turning 30 that makes writers "get serious." I decided to get serious about writing when I turned 30, too.

Love this post, Jessica! Sorry I've been absent from your blog for so long. I have a small bundle of joy to blame for that, though, I guess. :)


Elisabeth Black said...

Lovely, very true. I also started writing when I was thirty, and I'm almost 32 now. :)

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

Andi - YES. That poor lovely lady was quite upset with my outing her age like that. ;) And at least I'm finally getting it, right? (The whole point of it all.)

Linda - Thanks. I love when analogies pop into my head like that. (My girls, however, are quite sick of it!)

Laura - Reminds me of what Lovemuffin says... he says that all the time.=)

Anne - I agree. Just wish there was some sort of manual out there for new writers to explain all of it! (Though, if they're at all like I was, they won't think it applies to them anyway!)

Jolene - You sound a lot like me right now. I was pretty sure FLORA was "the one", now I'm not so sure. And I kind of grabbed hold of THE HUNGER GAMES last night... now I'm reading CATCHING FIRE. So DELIRIUM will have to wait for now. Have you read BEFORE I FALL yet?

Janet - You're welcome! Maybe that post came to me specifically for you! ;) (Well, and me too. LOL)

MJ - Glad it meant something to you too. I think a lot of times we blog, we forget that the things we are learning can also be helpful to someone else. It pays to share them, that way we can all support one another!

Amy & Elisabeth - Isn't that weird? It's as though something was brought to life inside of us when we hit that big 3-0! (Which, for me -- not sure about you two -- doesn't seem to change. I'm actually going to be 30 forever!) ;)