“Sometimes you just have to lower your expectations.”

I talked about expectations a few days ago, and just over the weekend I’ve come upon a situation where I got to put my preaching into practice.

Let me back up for a second. In case you don’t recognize the quote in this post’s title, it’s from a pretty fantastic movie called Eight Below. In it, a man determined to retrieve his team of huskies from being trapped in Antarctica has given up on any help from friends or family. “Sometimes you just have to lower your expectations,” he says rather harshly to his would-be girlfriend.

Watch it. It’s a great family film. But my point is–it acts in that moment like lowering expectations is a bad thing.

And it can be. When it comes to moral standards and absolutes, lowering expectations is a bad thing. But when it comes to personal goals and standards–it can get a little murkier.

One goal I’ve always had when it comes to my writing and publishing is to stay one book ahead in my series. Meaning, before I start editing and publishing the current installment, I already have a first draft of the next one ready to go. It gave me comfort to know I was staying ahead, that I had something ready to go into production, so to speak, as soon as I finished my current publication project. I’ve done that with the first five books of the series, so naturally I continued the tradition with book six. I abandoned that draft to go into writing a rough draft of book seven.

It hasn’t gone well. I’ve written a large part of the book, and have worked on it as much as I can, but the further I’ve gone, the more I’ve realized it needs to be reworked. Probably from scratch. And I need to get moving on publishing book six if I want to do it this summer, which is important to me.

But that would mean giving book six revision and publishing the green light without having a complete book seven ready to follow it. It would mean stepping out on a limb with no net to catch me.

I had felt for awhile like this was what I needed to do. After all, it’s THE WAY THINGS ARE DONE. It’s the expectation I’ve always had for my writing process.

But I finally had to succumb to the reality that right now, for the moment, it’s just not working. Not for this book. Not for this time. Maybe in the future I’ll return to that standard, but for now–I’ve had to repeatedly tell myself IT’S OKAY to change up the way I do things. No one is going to punish me. No one but myself even has that expectation.

Sometimes it’s good to stick to things and not give up. But sometimes, I’m having to learn that giving up isn’t a dirty word (or two). Sometimes, giving up is the wise thing to do.

What am I saying? Well, I’m saying that for now work on Firmament: Eleftheria is going to take a haiatus. It will be better for the story in the long run. But Firmament: No Man is going to move forward into edits, and Lord willing, a release sometime in early summer. (Though my baby is due for a summer release, too, so we’ll see how this goes!)

That’s my takeaway from the thought of lowering expectations. What about you? Are there some expectations you’ve placed on yourself that just aren’t reasonable for you right now–even if it’s what you’ve always been used to?

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