Back from a couple of days at Niagra Falls, first on the American side, and then on the Canadian. Tons of pictures, most of which I will not post here. Regular vacation shots, that kind of thing. I am going to post this shot from the gorge just beneath the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Impressive, isn’t it? Watching the Niagra River as it speeds along the channel then makes a sweeping left turn just before it plummets into the gorge below is almost as impressive as the falls itself.
And yet, in the paraphrased words of the non-immortal Lord Voldemort, “I confess myself…slightly disappointed.”
The reason I am slightly disappointed is rooted in what appears to be a universal truth—Nothing is as good as you imagined it to be. Yes, Niagra Falls was incredible. Awe-inspiring. Beautiful. All those things, and yet…just not what I imagined. I’d been hearing about Niagra Falls all my life. I expected several hundred feet high, glistening rainbows everywhere (other than the few there were), a roar to drown out thunder! It was surely something, all right, just not quite all that, because nothing ever could be. It’s not a shortcoming of the Falls, it’s a hyper-heating of the imagination. Expectations.
Applies to many aspects of writing as well. Something along the lines of “I envisioned an Eagle and labored to produce a sparrow.” No matter how good (or bad) a finished book is, it’s never quite as good or pure or powerful or…whatever, as you envisioned it. That’s par for the course. Sometimes you get lucky and the book is different from what you imagined, and that’s almost always a good thing.
Speaking of different, there are other things to see aside from the Falls. There was a butterfly conservancy, which was lovely, and then there was Cham Shan Temple. Here my experience was likewise different, because I didn’t know about it ahead of time and therefore had no expectations whatsoever, so it easily exceeded all of them. I think perhaps it would be a good thing to approach other areas in life and work with the same attitude—no expectations, simply being open to the experience, whether it’s a vacation or a new story. That way it’s all about the discovery, and not about what you expect.
I can’t imagine that would ever be disappointing. Even slightly.