We’ve all heard the old chestnut “Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.”
Expectations. In my personal opinion, expectations can kill a career as dead as Ordering to the Net, only quicker. It’s perfectly normal that you start selling stories and think “Now what?” Ok, so you’ve sold a story? Have you qualified for Active in SFWA? Ok, that’s three stories, good. The first two weren’t flukes, that’s nice to know. So. Have you sold a collection? Ok, now you’ve sold a collection? Marvelous! Have you sold a novel? Won a Nebula or Hugo? Been nominated for any darn thing? Sold a Movie Option? Done… well, you get the idea. My friend and mentor Parke Godwin once described this as the “Now the Monkey on My Back Has a New Act” syndrome. This is perfectly normal. What’s not normal is when the monkey, so to speak, thinks the show’s over.
We tend to forget that the sole purpose of a goal is to be a target, but once you hit the mark, its job is done. A goal in its pure essence is a direction, not a destination. One you reach a goal you don’t clear a plot of land on the site, build a split-level with a pool in the back yard and move in. That way lies stagnation. If you don’t want to stagnate, you have to look for the next goal or retire. Those are your choices. Pick one. Continue reading