You know, I really admire people who can write to spec. (i.e. Writing to a publisher's specifications.) They sign a contract and then write what they've promised to write. I couldn't do it. I can't even write when I think the readers are expecting certain things from me. Or, rather, I can write, but it turns out crap and then I hate myself.
I've known this 'can't write to spec' thing for years, but I didn't really think about it because I didn't have anyone expecting anything of me. I learned it when I tried to write my second book keeping everyone else's writing advice in mind. OMG, that was a horrible experience. I mean, I fixed it for the most part when I stopped writing to expectations and started writing how I write again. It ended up being a much better book and the crappy parts got fixed during editing. (Still not ready to rework that one so it'll be publishable, though.)
Problem is, I forgot. Here I was, happily zooming along publishing books I'd written while I was still sans expectations. Then I needed to write more books and everything I was writing turned into big piles of stinking manure. Which made me hate myself. And my writing.
So I stopped.
I stopped writing, that is. I didn't stop worrying about what other people were expecting. In fact, the more I didn't write, the worse it got. I made promises and I was breaking them all. I had an editor who was expecting to edit another book this year. I had a cover artist who was expecting to design another cover this year. I had readers who were expecting more books...
Arrggh. Just typing that gave me the sweats.
Anyway, I stopped. But this time I stopped worrying about writing to what I perceive are the expectations of others - writing to expec, so to speak. Part of doing that meant I needed to stop talking about what I was writing, so no one would have an expectations and then I wouldn't have to live up to them.
And I started.
I started writing again. Right now, only one person knows what I'm writing and I told her last night. Even Hubs doesn't know because I don't want to disappoint him if this all turns to crap again. He just knows I'm writing again and he's happy for me.
So, the plan for now is to just write. Write this book. Write the next book. And the next. Edit and publish them as I find the funds to do so. I'm hoping next year will be a good 3-4 book year, but we'll see.
Meanwhile, I hope you readers stick around. I know in this business you're only as memorable as your last book and the time between books makes readers forgetful. I can't help that right now. I can only do what I do, and hope it all works out.
What about you? Do expectations freak you out, or are you totally up to that challenge?