"Where do your expectations for your writing (career/skill/quality/achievements) come from? Is the source internal, external, or both? And how do you cope when you don't meet them?"
Oh the pressure.
My expectations for my career come from me. What I want out of a writing career has changed from a spastic "I WANNA WRITE A BOOK!" to a more refined, "I would love a successful, lifelong career in YA fiction writing."
Defining success is a very personal, individual thing. I'm still figuring it out. Good reviews? A certain number of books sold? Both? Just being published (which is already huge for me)? Just writing the stories I want to write? We'll see.
As for the skill and quality of my writing? External or internal? I'd say both.
For me, the external sources of pressure include:
- future readers
- my crit partners
- my agent
- my editor
- other YA books that blow me away with their story lines and prose
The internal sources of pressure come from me trying my hardest to write a page of a novel that I can read and say, "Wow, this is good. How did I do that?" Something I can be really proud of.
Now, the last question: How do I deal when I don't meet my expectations?
For my career? Ask again later, says the Eight Ball. It's too early.
For my writing, it's revise, revise, and revise. Revision has been the key to my writing skills improving. I hate doing them, but I also love them because they make me a better writer. I set the bar very high for myself. I'm used to reading my writing and knowing when it sucks lemons. Because at the end of the day?
I am my harshest critic.