“Love her, love her, love her! If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces – and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper – love her, love her, love her!” ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
I overdo expectations. My mother and later my husband mentioned to me—more than once—that perhaps I expected too much of many situations and possibly a person or two. I thought they were wrong. I expected to receive only as much as I was prepared to give. No more. No less.
Well, what utter BS that is, simply because that’s not the way life works.
My parents were pretty traditional. He worked outside the home and she worked in the home. They made no pretense at treating their sons and daughters alike, because…well, that’s the way it was. As a teenager, I really thought, since I didn’t cause trouble (often), I would receive the same freedoms my brothers had. I didn’t. Later, when I had two boys and a girl, I was pretty determined not to repeat that particular mistake. I don’t think I did—I was way too busy making a whole bunch of my own mistakes.
Marriage would be pretty near perfect if both partners gave, at all times, 100 percent. I expected, 42-and-change years ago, that I would give precisely that and receive precisely that. Reasonable, right?
Had we gone on a honeymoon, we would have blown it before we got home from Niagara Falls. There have been many, many days in those years when I have indeed given the full 100, given a whole lot more than he did, loved more than he did. There have been just as many days (or nearly as many—I’m not giving in completely here) that he’s been the one giving more and loving more.
When I first started writing books, before I actually sold any, I read of things like book-signing tours, huge speaker fees for authors, and amazing promotion by publishers. All you had to do was write a kickass book that fit within the parameters of whatever trend was going on right now, sell it to said publisher for scads of money, work well with your editor, and settle down to write the next book. The publisher made even more money than you did and did all that amazing promotion I already mentioned. Wasn’t that how it went?
Okay, okay, Mom. Okay, Duane. Maybe I do over-expect, or did. I don’t really think I do anymore. Very much.
Because it’s still the author’s responsibility to write a kickass book and work well with her editor, whether she’s publishing independently or for a publisher. Some people—not me—still make a lot of money. Some publishers still do quite a bit of promotion for some of their authors. I love my publishers, I particularly love my editors, but most of the promotion ball is in my court.
I hate it. Not a little, but a lot. The only part of self-promotion I like is writing posts for guest blogs, because…yes, exactly, because I’m writing and writing is still as magical and lovely to me as breathing.
And there we go.
Just as the scales of marriage seesaw like an old-fashioned teeter-totter and just as every generation of parents makes its own plethora of mistakes, so does each age of publishing change. I won’t pretend I can keep up with those changes or that I like them. What I will do is try to stop expecting too much and to keep giving my 100 percent. Just as it’s worth it in marriage and parenting, so it is worth it in publishing. It’s all about the magic and the loveliness, after all.