Awards and Hoverboards: Expectations of Your Writing Future

It’s October 21, 2015. Welcome to the future, everyone!

Okay, so no hoverboards for the masses yet, and our 80s-inspired clothes look a little different. But today’s Back to the Future festivities did get me thinking about the future and expectations.

As writers, it’s easy to build up expectations and ideas of success. You put a lot of time and effort into a given project, and you hope that time and effort will be rewarded by a agent offering representation, or a book deal, or an award, or a movie, or a place at the top of the best-seller list. You set deadlines for yourself–finish a draft by X date, query by Y, get an agent by Z. Surely in twenty years, you’ll be at ALA, accepting your Printz award from atop your hoverboard, right?

At last year’s retreat in Tennessee, someone (I think it was Tessa Gratton) mentioned that “at some point, everything in publishing will happen to you.” From getting a book deal to getting a book pushed back to getting a book cancelled; from rejections to sales at auctions; from tons of marketing support and movie deals to seeing a book just like yours make a huge splash while yours falls flat–the good and the bad all happens at some point. No matter what you do or how hard you work, you can’t control the whole process.

So what does that mean for the future of your writing career? Don’t focus on the hoverboard. Forget the movie deals, the sales at auction, the awards ceremonies. Focus on the part you can control–writing the best work you can. Even if you can’t predict the future, you’ll know that you made the very best book you could.

As Doc Brown said: “Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.”

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