As I finish writing this novel, I reflect on how much differently I approach The End. Back when I finished my first short story, I was excited about what sort of change finishing it would bring my life. The short story was published but life didn't much change. Although I've worked on this novel about sixteen months, I expect even less change. I'm already beginning work on other projects, including another novel. The Writer has begun imagineering the characters, setting and plot.
Changing expectations reflect understanding life lessons. When I was young and living in a household embroiled with tension, I thought moving out would change me and my life. I dreamed of turning sixteen and getting my driver license, imagining the myriad of changes I would enjoy after motorized mobility. Graduating high school was to be another milestone of great changes and independence, as was joining the military, moving out, marrying, and living overseas. I thought owning my own restaurant would bring great change. So would retiring from the military, working for different start-ups, taking different positions and acquiring new roles and experiences.
Each achievement brought great changes. They were positive, building upon previous changes. But they were not the great changes I conceived. I guess I'm too much of a dewy eyed optimist to ever realize the changes my imagination promises. Yet, of all of these achievements, finishing this novel is the most satisfying and I attribute it to my changed expectations. I used to think I was writing to change the world, and then I was writing to tell a story. Now I write to realize a story for myself so the process itself brought the changes I expected, and I'm not dependent on finishing it to fulfill my expectations of change.
I changed through writing, learning not to hate editing and revising, and to love writing like crazy. I learned that the measure of the book was not in its publication and sales but in the joy I realized through writing it. Publications, sales and others' enjoyment would just be pure pleasure, far beyond my expectations.
Some might claim that I'm rationalizing my position. I argue that they're wrong. I'm an imagineer. I write to realize the ideas and stories that I find in my imagination. I write for me and I'm pleased with the novel that I've written.
In that way, it's exceeded my expectations.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com