One of my stumbling blocks as a writer/partner/friend/human-on-this-planet is my inability to handle a situation when my expectations don’t match my reality. You know in (500) Days of Summer when Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character) fantasizes about certain situations only to be punched in the gut by reality? Yeah, that’s me. On the daily. I’m constantly creating these expected scenarios in my brain. And, frankly, it’s exhausting. It’s also frequently impossible for people/situations/myself to ever fully meet these expectations.
I think this has held me way back in my writing life. (Don’t get me started on my dating life. Oy.) Because I have these unrealistic expectations for what I should be writing like and how people should be responding to my writing. And then– when those expectations collapse around me– I get discouraged and quit. I think this video by Ira Glass describes the phenomenon well.
My favorite line from the video:
[Your] taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have.
So, I’ll keep writing. Even though I know what I am writing isn’t there yet. Even though, in order to get there, I have to accept reality and be patient with myself.