So here we are at blog entry #50. It’s been a little over a year now that I’ve been updating this site. If I’m honest, I’m surprised I’ve gotten this far with it. My track record with consistency in any kind of journaling endeavour is sketchy, at best. But I’m still here, trying to be honest (despite the name of the site). Hopefully you’re still here, enjoying it.

Since we’re being honest, I have to admit that reality is not meeting my expectations. Things in my writing “career” are not where I thought they’d be at this point. When I started this blog, I was full of excitement and hope – the first draft of my novel was finished, I was getting published in my first anthology and I was writing some (in my opinion) fantastic short stories. Things were going well.

However, it has not panned out as I’d expected. I anticipated being published in a paid anthology or magazine by now. I thought I’d have more great short stories finished. I definitely thought I’d be a lot further along – if not finished – editing my novel.

Instead, I’m still unpublished in anything that has a selection process. While I am still submitting my stories, I’m not being as diligent about it as I should be. My portfolio of stories isn’t growing because I’m not writing anything. I’m getting to my weekly writing meetings maybe once a month, if that. The editing of my novel has become an albatross around my neck. I know it needs doing. I even know exactly what I need to do. I just don’t do it.

It’s gotten to the point where the voice in the back of my mind that likes to whisper unkind things is trying to make me doubt that I’m a writer. If I am, wouldn’t I be writing? If I really love writing and am built to do it, wouldn’t I be doing it no matter what? If I really want this novel to be finished wouldn’t I just sit down, buckle up and edit the damn thing?

Like normal, I know things aren’t that simple and I’m telling that voice to go away. It’s the voice of depression and fear and it’s incapable of speaking truth. I know this, I do. But it takes energy to resist it and shut it down, and energy is something I have little of.

Expectations have always been a problem for me. I’ve been told my whole life I’m a pessimist but I honestly consider myself to be an optimist. The problem is my expectations are *too* high. Reality could never possibly meet the hopes I hold for the world, so I spend a lot of time disappointed. The disappointment leads to depression, so my mechanism to prevent this is to try to temper my hopes before the world can crush them. This results in me looking like a pessimist to those who don’t live in my head.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized this isn’t exactly healthy either and I’ve been trying to find a happier medium. A lot of resources and studies will tell you that it’s important to set goals and write them down, and I’m sure this is true for a large swathe of the population. I also know that for me, writing down a goal is generally its death. The expectations of that piece of paper and its stated goal weighs on me, nibbling at me every moment I’m not actively working on it until the pressure is so overwhelming that I can’t even look at it or the thing I’m supposed to be accomplishing. The way that I’m wired prefers if we don’t make expectations too real.

I do better if my goals are a bit vague. Again, this goes against everything I’ve been taught, which is usually that goals have to be specific and measurable. But for me, “I will write 2000 words by Friday” is a recipe for disaster. If Friday comes and I’ve only written 1500 words, then I have FAILED. My brain will take no sense of achievement in the words that I did write. The only words that exist are the 500 I didn’t write. Counter-intuitive, I know, but it’s true.

“I will get some writing done this week” is something I’m a lot more likely to succeed with. “Some writing” means I can write 100 words on Tuesday and that’s a win. Expectations were met, no reason to feel disappointed. I could do nothing else all week and I’ve still achieved my goal. But since I now have a win, I’m more likely to do more writing on Wednesday and Thursday because I’m feeling good about my success.

However, I’m beginning to think that’s not the end of the goal-setting road for me either. I’ve been taking this gentle approach for a while now, trying to just be happy when I get any editing, writing or story submitting done. It’s not working. I’m still getting almost nothing done minus a brief flurry of energy here and there. My go-to is to blame my job, because I know it is my number one time and energy time sink. But, the simple fact is, the need to work isn’t going to disappear. Number one problem or not, I need to find a way to get around it. I guess my self-growth doesn’t get to stop here.

On a happier note, I did get more reading done this week, so that’s a win. Thank you to everyone who took the time to give me book recommendations. I’ve got enough reading material on the list for my foreseeable future and many things outside of what I’d probably normally look at, so that’s wonderful. Now, time to go resubmit a rejected short story and keep trying to find a home for it. High expectation or not, I have to believe it’s out there somewhere.

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