I’ve been having a long-running conversation with a bunch of writer friends about our hopes for our careers. One of them has written a truly marvellous book, which comes out next year, and she’s been telling herself not to hope for too much. She’s trying very hard not to think about that book at all and to concentrate on the next one.
Which is of course what all writers should do: focus on the book you’re writing, keep on plugging, don’t get too distracted by what may happen next year with the book you’ve already finished.
Except that hope is precious. Hoping that your book will do well, that it will find readers, is not a terrible thing. I’m sure all writers hope such things for all their books.1
It’s only a problem when your hopes get in the way of your writing. When you’re so wrapped in how your book is going to do that you neglect to write the next one. Debut writers are particularly prone to this problem. Newsflash: one book does not a writing career make. If your first book isn’t the next Twilight, maybe the one after it will be, or the one after that. You’ve got time.2
But if you’re already writing the next book then hope away! Rehearse your interview with Oprah.3 Practice your Nobel Prize acceptance speech. I hoped that my very first book would be optioned by Hollywood.4 I have hoped that for each book I’ve written. And that once optioned the book would be made into a spectacularly brilliant movie that in no way buggered up the book I’d written.5 Yes, I have daydreamed about those movies and about what I’d wear to the premier. To date none of my books have been optioned. Doesn’t stop my hoping.
What? I like daydreaming. Sometimes that’s where my next novels come from.
Now, all of this may sound like I’m contradicting myself. For did I not say that I like to keep my goals realistic? Aiming to write in different genres rather than to be a bestseller. Yes, I did and I think you should to. It’s wise to have attainable goals that way you can, you know, attain them. But you can have goals and hopes.
In fact, I rather think that the two sustain each other.
- Well, unless their evil ex has wangled a percentage of the royalties. [↩]
- I guess the more relevant newsflash is that there may never be a next Twilight but the point of this post is not to take away hope. [↩]
- Is it sad that I’ve never done that? Though in my mind I’ve been interviewed by Romana Koval. [↩]
- It was my PhD thesis. [↩]
- Oh, and that the casting was entirely without white washing. [↩]