One Writer’s Expectation

I’m finding a lot more these days that the idea of expectations is paramount to my success, not just as a writer, but at navigating the madness of life. I’ll stick to the writing part for now.

A lot of my own stress comes from my writing, which is ironic, since it is also the activity that energizes, motivates and thrills me more than probably any other. Writing is a part of me as much as a fully functioning kidney; I can’t have a high quality of life without it.

But writing isn’t juI’m finding a lot more these days that the idea of expectations is paramount to my success, not just as a writer, but at navigating the madness of life. I’ll stick to the writing part for now.

A lot of my own stress comes from my writing, which is ironic, since it is also the activity that energizes, motivates and thrills me more than probably any other. Writing is a part of me as much as a fully functioning kidney; I can’t have a high quality of life without it.

But writing isn’t just about the writing; it’s about getting published. And THAT can bring a lot of stress, if you’re not careful.

Like with anything else, getting published doesn’t just happen. You don’t just wish it so and then–BOOM!–you’re published (if only!). You have to be strategic about it. It’s like a job search. But rather than searching job sites and submitting resumes and cover letters and interviewing and managing that whole process while you’re still working at your current job, you search agents lists and publshing housing and writers groups and conferences, submit query letters and sample chapters, and maybe build a web site and network with industry folks–also while working full time and being married and all the other parts of being alive.

So there’s a lot to it.

To carry this all out it I find that it helps me to have a plan of some sort. And even more important, it helps to have some goals. What do I want to accomplish? By when?

Let’s say I decide that I should land an agent within 6 months, just because in my head that seems like a reasonable amount of time. (I think it should have happened already, but that’s another point entirely!) What if the 6-month mark arrives and I don’t have an agent? How should I feel about myself in that situation? What should I do then?

And let’s say I decide from the outset that I want to have my novel published within one year. And then the year-mark roles around and it hasn’t happened? How should I feel about that?

Where I struggle at times is not allowing for the natural order of things. Whether I’m accepting it at the moment or not, reality keeps reminding–and sometimes painfully so–that there’s a limit to what I can do and when I can do it.

I know. What’s up with that?

I get up a 5 am every day during the week (and about 7 am on weekends), and alternate those early morning before work between writing days and going to the gym. My weekend days are extremely productive for me writing-wise, as I have more alert time. And many morning are productive as well, and I get some good writing done, which includes writing new fiction, working on this web site, writing query letters, etc.

Thing is, there are days when I just can’t get out of bed. Just. Can’t. And there are others when I’m up, but barely functioning, and can’t string together a single coherent sentence, much less some snappy dialogue or a professional letter. I try, but it’s just not in me. I’m tired. I’m achy. I’m sick. I’m not in the mood to be up at friggin 5 am!

It happens, and sometimes with enough regularity to discourage me for a while

But if this is my situation overall, then it seem like I have one of two choices to make:

Choice No. 1 is: I will do my very best each and every day to accomplish what I set out to do, will accept the outcome whether it’s what I wanted or not, and will adjust to the best of my ability as I go along. As a wiser man than I often tells me, "If I can I will, if I can’t I won’t." Which means, if I can reasonably do whatever it is I’ve decided is important, then I’ll go and do it. And if I’m not able to do it, for any number of possible reasons, then I’ll have to take a pass this time. And be okay with it. Not saying I’m okay with it, but actually BEING okay with it. THAT’S the tricky part.

Even though I say the words out loud many times, I sometimes need extra reminders that it simply isn’t possible for me to do more than I’m able. I know, I know, that can sound like crazy talk to me, too. But if that’s really the case (and I’m pretty certain that it is), I’m having a tough time coming up with reasons why I should set expectations for myself that are beyond what I can actually reach.

When I’m able to take this more reasonable attitude–and belive me, it’s not as often as I’d like, but I’m working on it–I’m more relaxed overall, which tends to lead to me being a more productive writer (and person), and the next thing you know I’m accomplishing what I set out to do.

Choice No. 2 is: Screw that, I’m SUPPOSED to accomplish what I want and I’m SUPPOSED to do it within the time frame I arbitrarily decided. Or else it’s a disaster. And if you’re wondering, I indeed take this attitude now and again. And when I do, I tend to be totally stressed out and depressed, and the next thing you know I’m doing a half-assed job of getting where I want to be and then I’m so far off track that I need to just get out of my own head and take a break to recover. When I’m not going right, I tend to believe that I should ALWAYS be writing, and that any missed writing days are days wasted.

I was in one of those funks up until not so long ago, but I’m out of it now and feeling good. Over the last several weeks I’ve finished a novel synopsis, sent out packages to a few agents I’ve met along the way. I’m building this Web site. And there’s more to come.

I’m not saying that I’m never going to run amok again or that I’m never going to lose my way. But my intentions are to stay as focused as I can, to keep my expectations realistic, but that force me to stretch a little, and to laugh at myself–and hopefully with myself–as often as possible. I’m trying to do the best I can with what I know and the time that’s available to me, all while giving myself a break if I don’t get exactly what I want, when I want it.

Is this all a long-winded way of saying that I just need to be patient, but persistent? Maybe. But sometimes I need reminding, where I don’t just know it intellecutally, but emotionally as well. Sometimes it needs to sink in a little more than others.

It’s sunk in good now. I’ll let you know the next time it isn’t, and maybe then you can remind me to take a break and just be okay with doing the best I can that day. Because there’s another one coming soon enough…

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2006/12/12 08:42

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2006/12/12 08:51

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2006/12/12 12:39

The Undeniable Logic of Positive Thinking

As my hero Zig Ziglar says, positive thinking alone might not bring you anything, but it will allow you to do everything [i]better[/i] than negative thinking will.B)

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2006/12/14 12:06As my hero Zig Ziglar says, positive thinking alone might not bring you anything, but it will allow you to do everything [i]better[/i] than negative thinking will.B)

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2006/12/14 12:06

Re:Heroes

I’m not sure I love HEROES, but I really like it. The characters are accessible, the plot is twisty and overal it’s just a fun show. The acting is a little weak at times, but Hiro is just the most fun character TV has seen in a long, long time and the cop who can hear people’s thoughts is another great addition.

Indeed, LOST has gotten off to a bit of a shaky start this year, but I’m hopeful for a big comeback. But losing Mr. Eko is just a dissaster. He was by far my favorite character, andI’m not sure I love HEROES, but I really like it. The characters are accessible, the plot is twisty and overal it’s just a fun show. The acting is a little weak at times, but Hiro is just the most fun character TV has seen in a long, long time and the cop who can hear people’s thoughts is another great addition.

Indeed, LOST has gotten off to a bit of a shaky start this year, but I’m hopeful for a big comeback. But losing Mr. Eko is just a dissaster. He was by far my favorite character, and the show will have to work quite hard to replace his mix of mystery and intensity.

A Neighborhood Walk

Something I’ve done since I was a teenager is take long walks though my neighborhood. I did it in Merrick and Buffalo and Tempe, Ariz., Brooklyn and Manhattan, and now Queens. Walking around helps me clear me my head and get a little excercise, and to get away from whatever’s typically around me. And what I tend realize, as I goes on these walks, is how much I miss them when I haven’t taken one for a while. I took my first really great walk in a long while about two weeks ago, and man it felt Something I’ve done since I was a teenager is take long walks though my neighborhood. I did it in Merrick and Buffalo and Tempe, Ariz., Brooklyn and Manhattan, and now Queens. Walking around helps me clear me my head and get a little excercise, and to get away from whatever’s typically around me. And what I tend realize, as I goes on these walks, is how much I miss them when I haven’t taken one for a while. I took my first really great walk in a long while about two weeks ago, and man it felt great.

This morning Liz and I took a walk through the south end of Forest Hills, and it’s like a whole other world over there. With no exaggeration there are millon dollar homes back there, and it’s just beautiful. Of course, it’s a real kick in the junk that only the richies can afford to live there, but it’s still something to see. And on a beautiful fall day like today, with the sun shining and leaves all manner of yellow and red and brown, it just ain’t a bad way to spend an hour. Especially with my girl.

B)

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2006/11/25 15:48

Agents Update

So here’s the latest on my search for an agent:

Two agents I’ve spoken to recently (with different firms) love the premise of my novel, although I haven’t signed with anybody yet. Still looking for the right fit.

And the search goes on …

B)So here’s the latest on my search for an agent:

Two agents I’ve spoken to recently (with different firms) love the premise of my novel, although I haven’t signed with anybody yet. Still looking for the right fit.

And the search goes on …

B)

American Beauty

Just a quick post …

Was hanging out at a friends house for Thanskgiving leftovers, and wound up watching American Beauty on DVD.

What a great movie. I never get tired of watching it. One of my favorite scenes is when Lester is working out in the garage and smoking his Army Grade weed, and after his wife tells him that he won’t get away with his rebellious behavior, Lester offers, with each bench press:

That’s …

What …

You …

Think.

It’s not quite a powJust a quick post …

Was hanging out at a friends house for Thanskgiving leftovers, and wound up watching American Beauty on DVD.

What a great movie. I never get tired of watching it. One of my favorite scenes is when Lester is working out in the garage and smoking his Army Grade weed, and after his wife tells him that he won’t get away with his rebellious behavior, Lester offers, with each bench press:

That’s …

What …

You …

Think.

It’s not quite a power-to-the-people moment, but for suburban malaise, it’s close enough…

Norwegian Dawn

Hi Gang,

Liz and I recently took a cruise down to the Carribean on the Norwegian Dawn. The ship left from the Hudson River in NYC–talk about convenient for us!–and made one stop in Florida (we spent the day at Epcot Center; skip it–soooooo cheesey), and then one stop each at Freeport, Great Stirrup and Nassau. We had some cold, cruddy weather going up and back along the Atlantic, but got plenty o sunshine in the Carribean.

Overall Norwegian offers a solid cruise experience with lotsHi Gang,

Liz and I recently took a cruise down to the Carribean on the Norwegian Dawn. The ship left from the Hudson River in NYC–talk about convenient for us!–and made one stop in Florida (we spent the day at Epcot Center; skip it–soooooo cheesey), and then one stop each at Freeport, Great Stirrup and Nassau. We had some cold, cruddy weather going up and back along the Atlantic, but got plenty o sunshine in the Carribean.

Overall Norwegian offers a solid cruise experience with lots of dining options (but not the greatest food quality), but it didn’t quite live up to the Carribean cruise we took a few years back with Celebrity cruise line. Still, it was a good and well-needed vacation. A few highlights included my first time parasailing–man, you get up high! so cool!–and a super relaxing day on the beach at Freeport getting nice and lobster red.

Anybody got any other cruises to recommend?

Russ

B)

Happy Thanksgiving 2

Hi Gang,

I had a great big Thanksgiving post here with all sorts of holiday wishes, but as I’m still learning how to use my own Web site, I logged in under the wrong user name and lost the whole thing!

D’oh!

Anyway, I want (again) to wish everybody a happy holiday, and hope that you spent Thanksgiving with good friends and family, stuffed yer faces good, and took a moment or two to give thanks for all the things you’re grateful for.

Talk again soon.

Russ

B)Hi Gang,

I had a great big Thanksgiving post here with all sorts of holiday wishes, but as I’m still learning how to use my own Web site, I logged in under the wrong user name and lost the whole thing!

D’oh!

Anyway, I want (again) to wish everybody a happy holiday, and hope that you spent Thanksgiving with good friends and family, stuffed yer faces good, and took a moment or two to give thanks for all the things you’re grateful for.

Talk again soon.

Russ

B)

My Buddy Alex

Hi Gang,

Some of you know my cat, Alex, who my wife and I refer to as either Alex, buddy, or The Buddy. He’s quite the character, let me tell you. You know those cats that basically run the place? Yep. That’s Alex all over. And yet you just can’t not love the little guy. I first scooped up Alex back in 1992 when I was still in Buffalo, and he’s been with me ever since. I’ll be telling lots of Alex-related tales, and I’ll post his pic soon. But for now, just wanted to say hi, introduce you Hi Gang,

Some of you know my cat, Alex, who my wife and I refer to as either Alex, buddy, or The Buddy. He’s quite the character, let me tell you. You know those cats that basically run the place? Yep. That’s Alex all over. And yet you just can’t not love the little guy. I first scooped up Alex back in 1992 when I was still in Buffalo, and he’s been with me ever since. I’ll be telling lots of Alex-related tales, and I’ll post his pic soon. But for now, just wanted to say hi, introduce you to Alex (who is on the couch now sniffing around for THE MOST COMFORTABLE SPOT EVER) and let you know that he’ll be a big part of this Web site from here on out.

Russ

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