Lydia's answer is here, and Laura's is here. Deb will be up next week. As for me...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?
My expectations for my writing come from the same place the rest of my expectations of myself come from. And instead of telling you flat out, I will share a little story from my childhood.
My parents decided I was ready to go to kindergarten when I was four. Sure, my birthday wasn't until the very end of October and I couldn't legally start public school where we lived, but they decided I was ready enough to put me in some sort of church kindergarten, and then a different private school for first grade. And I have a memory, a very hazy one, but I've checked with my parents and they confirm the logistical details are accurate:
I am sitting in an empty classroom, at a table with a bunch of chairs around it. Child-sized. And I am holding a pencil, and looking down at some kind of test. I think it was an entrance exam for that private school, though at the time I only understood it as some sort of worksheet I was supposed to complete, and that the school people wanted to see if I could do it. I remember thinking only one thing:
I will SHOW these people what I can do.
I was five.
My expectations of what I can and should achieve come from inside of me. And I expect a lot. I know I said I don't study writing craft, but that doesn't mean I don't work on my writing, that I don't critique my own work mercilessly, that I don't expect every piece of work to be better than the last, or that I am easily satisfied.
Now that I've gotten to the point (in this strange adventure I am calling a writing career) where other people are beginning to expect things of me, I'm really starting to have fun. I like few things better than a really high bar, except for maybe nudging it a little higher. I might whine or angst over it to my friends (poor Justine), but really, it drives me.
It has absolutely nothing to do with competing with other people. I don't actually care that much about that. Other people can do their thing, and I'll do mine. Some will do and be objectively better, others won't. Some are flatly more talented, others aren't. That stuff ... meh. It is what it is. All that drives me is what I can control, and the only thing I can control is how hard I work.
So ... when I don't meet those expectations ... you know what? I'm pretty forgiving of myself (most of the time). I usually just buckle down and work harder. But really, when it's something I care about, and when I really feel like I've done all I can, I try to re-evaluate the goal I set for myself, and question whether or not it was reasonable. I usually don't waste time beating myself up, because that doesn't help me.
Enough about me! How about you? Where do your expectations come from? Who sets your bar? What happens when you don't quite reach it?
OH! And the winner of the exclusive LARKSTORM deleted scene is Alleged Author! Congrats!