Sometimes, the personal and the business sides of life collide.
I have people that I want to impress – fellow writers mainly, some readers certainly, life-long friends. These tend to fall into two camps.
1) People who are not at all connected with writing
2) People who are writers/editors/readers/publishers
So the range of expectations is pretty varied.
The problem is that trying to impress people always fails. Anyone who has ever shown a part of themselves to the world at large knows the truth that you can never please everyone. Whatever you are allowing to be judged will get a variety of responses and that’s how it goes. That truth reminds me of Rowling’s Harvard commencement speech.
It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.
– J. Rowling
The other big problem is that you start judging yourself, and measuring yourself against standards that already exist. Really, to do things that are impressive you have to stand so far outside the box that no one is going to know if it is going to work or not. In my opinion, that’s why people like Rowling herself, or Malorie Blackman, get so many rejections on their manuscripts – because no one knows if it is going to work. For publishers (businesses) that is a dangerous thing, for writers (creators) that is a wonderful thing. The big risks are more likely to fail but when they succeed it’s better than anything else.
My Poetry Postcards project failed. But it was fun and it connected me to a lot of people and it got a little of my poetry out there in the world. My Three Random Words project on the other hand went really well, better than I had expected. Overall I have a pretty even number of complete failures and successes but I don’t think of the failures with any less fondness than I do the successes.
I want to impress, but I don’t want to do that by repeating the successes of other people. I don’t want anyone to be impressed by me because I played it safe, or did what was expected – and the people who will be impressed by the outside-the-box ideas are the ones I like the best.