Lowered Expectations, Or the Dregs of Stupid

[Publetariat Editor’s note: this post contains strong language.]

Does lowering our expectations mean that we’re settling?

Is settling a bad thing? Or does it reflect our maturity and experience in weighing what’s best to meet our long- and short-term objectives?

This is all about writing, of course. You can take any inferences of relationships to another blog and cry your little eyes out there.

Months ago when I made the decision to go full-throttle with the writing, I thought that I was publishing my writing with renewed optimism, lofty goals, and shoot-for-the-sky objectives. Then I re-read 29 Jobs and a Million Lies as I was revising it and adding dialogue, and I realized what a totally different mindset I was operating with years ago when those tales occurred. If I had launched into writing back then, I’m not sure I would be making the same decisions I am now. For those of you who have read 29 Jobs, you know that I head straight into things balls-out, changing directions like a Dominican cab driver in the wrong lane on the BQE.

My expectation was that I would find–watch out now, brace yourselves–an agent.

I tried to find an agent. I did. Dan and Marc both know I tried hard. Even Miss Pitch. And then I stepped back, took a look at my 3 dozen or so rejections after only one request for a manuscript (by William Morris, I might add!) and thought, fuck, there’s got to be a better way. Why the fuck am I wasting my time?

And here I am, writing an unending series of flash fiction at Year Zero, meeting amazing people as I whore myself all over twitter, completed first novel and holding out til the spring to release it, and publishing 29 Jobs on my own with a lot of help from kind souls who built the website and pulling me through the muck of formatting.

Now that’s optimism: I changed directions rather than settling for what one could construe as less. Less than a contract? Nah, just different route to garnering readers. And that’s what a writer does, attract readers. Whether you earn $ doing that is another story altogether. I never knew before I submerged myself in learning about the publishing industry that the monster pub companies could let authors go back to day jobs. It seemed totally incongruent to me. It changed how I thought altogether and learned quickly that (a) writing a book isn’t that hard [let’s not talk about originality or quality of writing at this point] and (b) that’s why so many people do it. The market is flooded with books and authors.

Would books be better if authors all could quit their fucking horrible day jobs? Think about the hypothetical: we’re in a Platonic society where writers are subsidized so we get to spend all day thinking and telling stories and writing. Where is the barrier to entry? What’s to keep the dregs of stupid from declaring themselves a writer? (Who’s to say I’m not the dregs of stupid?)

Now, I ask myself again, have I lowered expectations? Or have I reoriented my expectations using the information about publishing and my own appetite for the masochistic formulas, restrictions, and limitations of the mainstream print publishing industry?

I know my answer, and I’m pleased with my decision. Fuck them, ups to DIY, is the response you expect me to blurt out. Sure, on first glance that’s where I am. But I do continue to dream larger, so that 20-something who made an ass of herself in 29 Jobs is still in here somewhere, despite having that same ass kicked all over the place, getting beat down but having tried everything. No Regrets. NO MOTHERFUCKING REGRETS.

…however: I Want More. (readers?)


Have you lowered your expectations? Do you know what you want?