Monday 3rd July 2017
I had an interesting conversation in the pub with an editor friend. We were talking about our various projects and he asked me what was happening with Black As Knight.
I explained that I was fully prepared that it might not sell but that I had a figure that I was hoping for in terms of an advance. Less than that figure and I’d be secretly disappointed.
So we had a long chat about advances, and it was all sensible, practical stuff. Nothing was a surprise. And yet the figure he thought was a less than the magic figure I’m secretly hoping for.
This really got me thinking on the way back home. Am I a bit delusional about Black as Knight’s chances? Have I got so wrapped up in the fantasy of it all that I’ve got unrealistic expectations of its success?
I’d like to think that, if anything, I’m being really practical at the moment. I feel particularly grounded, everything feels good. Perhaps that was where the disconnect was coming from.
But then I realised.
I spoke a few months back how people are contradictions. If someone is X then someone is also the polar opposite in some respects. I’ve taken this idea further. When I was speaking to my friend Danny at the weekend, I told him how a lot of really successful people stay balanced is by being extreme polar opposites. So someone who is humble, also has a huge ego. Someone who says they are only concerned with the macro, is also concerned with the micro.
I’m not sure if this holds universally true, but I have recently come to the conclusion that balance is achieved by pushing those extremes as hard as you can. Like opposing magnets, the right amount of force and you’ll get the most magnetism. Push too hard and they slip off to the side. Push too little and there’s nothing there.
So whilst there is a part of me that hopes for a decent advance, the key is the word ‘hope’. Thinking about my conversation, outside of how giving up the day job would allow me to write more efficiently, I’m not too worried about the money. It’s a metric, that’s all.
Keep in mind that at the same time, I’m also fully prepared for this novel not to sell. My editor friend told me that was highly, highly unlikely. I would agree. But the world is strange and weird things happen.
So whilst I hope for a decent advance (I believe in the book and the work I’m doing to improve it), I’m equally as prepared for no-one to buy it. Neither of those things are in my control so it’s not something I can really worry about.
However, this combination of high hope and low expectations can also extend to my swordfighting. I’ve been carefully trying to judge my ability as a fighter in the last week. I did well at untournament, I have had a couple of good fencing weeks, but how much of that is other people having a bad day, versus me having a good one?
Some of this was brought on by me thinking about untournament. People dropped out of my pool, so the fact that I came top probably isn’t a surprise. I had an easy group. Had I been in a group with seasoned fighters would I have done as well? On one hand, perhaps not. But then I remember that I won my pool fights convincingly. I fought well, so perhaps the fact I was in an easy pool was inconsequential.
I try to be honest in these editions of The Climb, even when it’s a bit uncomfortable to do so. And so, let me say, there’s a small part of me that feels entitled to doing well at the upcoming Astolat tournament. I really don’t like this. Yes, I’ve put in the work. Yes, I’m not fencing bad. But I don’t like that there’s a small part of me that feels I deserve to do well.
I’ve been telling everyone that I expect I’ll have a terrible tournament and do badly. People say this is defeatist, but I think I need to do this to quell that monster in the back of my head who feels it’s my right to do well. That same monster is going to feel mighty pissed off when I flunk my pool fights and go out early.
But I still hope that I do well.
Again, it’s high hopes and low expectations.
Those two opposing extremes seem to keep me balanced and realistic as to my chances, both in my writing and my swordfighting. That way if I have mega success in either of those, I won’t go off the deep end like I did when I picked up my agent, and if I do badly, I can just eat ice cream and then move onto the next thing.
And weirdly, the thing I’m most excited about isn’t the hopes coming true or the expectations being realised… it’s about seeing what happens and where on the scale between those two extremes it lands.
The destination is always more boring than the journey.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
- Twitter: @figures
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