Wednesday, February 1, 2012

UnExpectations and News

I've noticed that unhappiness often springs from the difference between what we have and what we think we are "supposed" to have. In recent years, I've gotten better at letting go of those expectations, especially when they're externally driven. If a dream is truly something we want, if it's internally driven, that's one thing ... but the other kind, the ones other people tell me I "should" want or "have to" have, are just so much useless baggage. And it's hard to fly when you're weighed down with baggage.

I am never going to care all that much about clothes and hair and makeup. It's a relief to admit that. I can admire other people who really know how to put together an outfit, but that isn't where I'm going to put my own energy. I'm "supposed" to want my own car, this being the automobile-centric US ... but my husband and I are the only single-car family on our block, and mostly I take the train and leave driving to him.

I think dandelions are beautiful. I like cheesy '70s pop songs. My maternal "biological clock" never kicked in. I don't drink alcohol or coffee. All these are things I used to feel weird about, as if I should apologize for being atypical. But the nice thing about getting older is that you no longer give a rat's kneecap about having different customs and preferences from those around you.

Yet the "shoulds" are insidious, and most writers know them. Your book should have more romance in it ... you should've gotten that award ... you should brand yourself ... you should write something more mainstream ... you should be writing one book a year ... you should be writing two books a year ... Here, too, we can cast off the expectations dictated by others. We can work toward what we truly want, and let go of the goals that represent only someone else's idea of what we should want.


I'll close with some links and news:

Shaun David Hutchinson, author of The Deathday Letter, launched an online book project today. At thedarkdays.com, he's doing a serial novel project, posting regular installments, which he describes as being like a TV show in that "once it’s out there, it’s out there. So if a character in an episode of your favorite TV show does or says something, the writers of the show have to honor that. Instead of being able to delete any inconsistencies or mistakes, writing this way will force me to work through any issues."

I'm the guest poster at Writers Read, talking about the books I've been reading, whose voice would not interfere with my own work in progress. Among the books discussed: Babbitt, The Dharma Bums, and Wendy and the Lost Boys.

On Wednesday, February 8, from 6 - 7:30 PM, I'll be part of a Teen Author Reading Night at the Jefferson Market Branch of the NY Public Library, corner of 6th Ave and 10th St. I'm excited to appear with Kate Ellison, Madeleine George, Peter Lerangis, Barnabus Miller, Carley Moore, and Maryrose Wood, on a panel hosted by Barry Lyga. If you're in NYC then and you're a YA fan, come check it out.

Finally, I've had some giveaways on this blog recently, and I wanted to formally announce the winners. My launch party giveaway ($150 to a library) was won by Tiff, and I ended up buying a nice pile o' books of her choice for the Pennsylvania school library where she works. The YA Hop giveaway was won by FireStar Books, whose book is in the mail. Thank you all for the lovely comments that were left on those posts--giveaways are the only time I don't respond individually to all comments. But I did read and enjoy them. :-)

8 comments:

  1. Sometimes the similarities between us scare me, Jenn. Your paragraphs that start with I am and I think could have been written word for word by me. And here I thought I was unique ^_^ I read the paragraphs out loud to my husband and he thought I'd written them. Not that I believe I've been cloned, because you're way smarter than me, but whoa.

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    1. Well, that clinches it. We have to meet at some writer event sooner or later, despite this opposite-coast thing! (And I doubt I'm smarter.)

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  2. *digging through desk for virtual tabbies*

    Well put, Jenn. I grew up in a country where living up to other people's perceptions was of utmost importance. I finally found peace in myself when I moved to the US ten years ago. I still battle with the same issues today, but its become easier to find what's truly important and valuable in my life. It's my life.

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    1. Since we're the ones who have to live with the consequences, I think we should get to make our own decisions! :-)

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  3. You are amazing, Jennifer. I just want you to know how much I've enjoyed getting to know you better through your blog. I think it's wonderful that you are secure being you. It's something we all strive for, and many of struggle with (me included). I think 2011 was really hard for me because I was dealing with the "You should's", and 2012 is a year that I'm casting those things away. It has been really amazing so far.

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    1. Thank you, Michelle. I get a lot from your blog, too, although I haven't emailed you about it.
      Everything on this blog is sort of invisibly caveatted with "in my humble opinion" or "in my experience" because I don't want to add to the shoulds. Not everything works for everyone, and I like it when writing advice is all about options and possibilities, not "you must do it this way." Every writer I know has had a different journey, so how can there be just one path?

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  4. You don't have to email me about my blog posts unless you want to, of course. No pressure at all. You are very good at keeping your blog clear that paths are different for everyone, and that's one of the things that drew me to you. Part of the reason I have the header on my blot (Imagination is the only rule in fiction) is to remind myself that rules only work if I set them for myself. :)

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