As we inch our way into March, we find ourselves anticipating quite a few things. Maybe we’re waiting on a new release (ahem.) Maybe we’re waiting for Spring – we had a few glimpses in February, but they seem buried under snow now that March is here. Maybe we’re waiting for a holiday like Easter or Passover, or the Spring Equinox. Maybe we’re just waiting for warmer temperatures and Daylight Savings Time.
Either way, it seems like anticipation is the name of the game right now. And while it can be fun to gear up for something, to hold our breaths and watch for some long prayed-for event, it can also be torture.
I’m sitting in my workspace right now, watching some huge old trees on our property line sway dangerously in the wind for the second time in a week. We’re expecting yet another nor’easter. It probably won’t be another “bomb cyclone,” which is something like a blizzard and something like a small hurricane but sounds like a cheap cocktail served to people with fake IDs on Spring Break. It will definitely be enough to make our kitten spend the night in constant vigilance, shouting at the wind from the kitchen window to scare the storm away.
We know it’s going to hit, we’re not sure when, and we’re not sure how bad. That’s anticipation.
You know what else is anticipation? I beta read a book by a friend of mine here on QRI. I haven’t seen it available for sale yet, or else I’d aim you there in a heartbeat. I fell in love with both leads, and as the book drew toward the end I kept putting it down. Why? I was afraid of The Black Moment, the point when everything seems to be going wrong for the couple. I couldn’t face the thought of these two people in pain. I knew the book would have a happily ever after ending, but the anticipation was too much for me to bear.
We do that with holidays too, don’t we? Little kids do it most, but we do it as adults as well. We get worked up about people’s reactions to the gifts we give them. We look forward to their excitement and we worry about their disappointment. We just about salivate over holiday meal favorites, from traditional Seder dishes to Thanksgiving standbys.
And we definitely do it with books.
I read a book recently. It was funny. It had a lot of sexual content, but it wasn’t erotic. It was more of a comedy, actually, a historical romp with a hint of mystery. The only problem was that the cover led me to expect something with a bit more erotic content. I was anticipating something erotic, and I chose to read that particular book at that particular time to help psyche myself up to work on a project that was a little past my typical comfort zone.
I still gave it a four-star review, because it was a good book that kept me laughing the whole time. But everything about the book made me anticipate something different, and I did leave disappointed.
When I find out a favorite author has a new book coming out, anticipation builds quickly. Does it work that way for you? If, say, A. E. Via has a new release, I’m downright distracted about it. That’s the result of consistency and brand building. I know I’m going to get a certain type of character, a certain type of adventure, and a certain pace. If I’m not in the mood to handle that, I’ll put off the book for a little while, but that sense of anticipation is still there.
As writers, we get that anticipatory glow too. At least I do. I know some folks hate the start of a new project, but for me it’s the best part. Everything is new and clean. I can see it stretching out before me with a nicely measured pace, everything cooperating to make sure I can get it done without ever losing focus…
Stop laughing. I can hear you, you know.
Seriously, though, I love those moments early in a project when I can anticipate how it’s going to go. It’s a lot like hope, and a little like worry, with a whole lot of enthusiasm thrown in for good measure. Every character sheet I draw up is a new bud on a tree, just starting to poke itself out to let me know what’s ahead. Every point on my outline is the temperature getting warmer, every new chapter in the project plan is a new season coming to life before my eyes.
Early spring is a season of anticipation. It’s a little challenging, because we’ve been waiting so long and we know we’ve got a way to go. Somehow anticipation feels worse when we can see the end of the line. It’s beautiful, because we have so much hope and life ahead of us that we can only enjoy what’s to come.