Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A matter of perspective

Before I post this blog I would like to make a disclaimer: I am not a psychologist nor am I familiar with the field of psychology.  But you don’t have to be a psychologist to realize that people’s experiences are affected by their mindset.  Nowhere is that more evident than in the interactions of my two youngest kids.  My introverted five year-old is an aspiring Eeyore.  I think she was born that way.  No matter how much fun she is having if one minor thing goes wrong, it clouds everything else and she whines, “I didn’t have fun. “  My three , almost 4 year old, on the other hand is more like Winnie the Pooh.  I swear he came out of the womb with a smile on his face.  If he takes a nap, “That was awesome, it’s the best day ever.”  If he sits and watches TV, he’ll burst out, “I have so much fun!” 

A few days ago we were at the playground.  It was a little crowded and they both wanted to go on the swing but had to wait.  They occupied themselves with other things and we eventually left without using the swing.  When we got home, my husband inquired about their time at the playground.  My three year old blurted out, “It was awesome.  I had so much fun!”  My five year old who had been busy on the slides and the monkey bars looked sullen, “I didn’t have fun because I didn’t go on the swings.”  Same experience, two different reactions.  Their experiences were colored by their outlook on life.

I see that same dichotomy among authors.  There are many authors (especially newbies) that are full of hope and expectations.  They see their potential through rose tinted lenses and they have faith that readers and publishers alike would love their books.  Then I see the seasoned authors whose outlook has been tainted by the harsh realities of the publishing industry.  The former celebrates when he sells thirty books, the latter looks at his five hundred dollar royalty check with disappointment, even anger.

I’ve said this before on this forum and I really believe it, that the distance between expectation and reality is disappointment.  And I’ll go even further with this qualifier: the magnitude of the disappointment is directly proportional to the flexibility of one’s beliefs.  What do I mean?  If you can adjust your expectation to align a little more with reality, you will be less disappointed.

The thing is, after many attempts and disappointments, many of those newbies with the rose tinted glasses become frustrated and jaded.  They are the ones who have set an inflexible bar very high and have not adjusted their expectations to align with reality.
So here are a few tips to be happy as writers:

1.    Go in with eyes wide open.
  Learn about the industry: the bad, the good and the ugly, then make the decision to write because you love it and not because you want to make money fast.
2.    Let reality temper your expectations without interfering with your dreams
Be aware that there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of writers who didn’t debut a bestseller or make several million dollars on their first or even thousandth book.  Being an author is not a get rich quick scheme.  But also be aware that there are some authors who make it and make it big. So keep your aspirations alive.
3.    Be flexible:
Your expectations are not set in stone.  You can adjust it to reflect reality.
4.    Keep hoping and dreaming
Writers are essentially dreamers.  That’s what we do best.  Keep your dreams alive.
5.    Make a decision to be happy in spite of, not because of.
No one should depend on situations in their lives to be happy.  Being happy is a choice we make irrespective of the ills we face.
If you have tips to add, please feel free to share them.


Charles Gramlich said...

This is a good one for me to read right now, since I'm a bit in the doldrums. however, if I were getting a 500 dollar royalty check I would be quite happy. I do believe that happiness involves mind set a lot. However, continued small things going wrong tend to wear down the strongest of us.

Jewel Amethyst said...

That's true Charles and I wish you the best. However, your perspective could mean the difference between being overcome by life's trials and overcoming life's difficulties.

bettye griffin said...

Great post, but #2 says it all!

Liane Spicer said...

Great advice, Jewel. Not just for writers, but for life.