Claire King


Great Expectations

Posted on: February 21st, 2013 by Claire - 7 Comments

A week on from the publication of The Night Rainbow and lot of people have been asking me the same question – how do you feel?

I suspect the expected response is something along the lines of “Amazing!” But in practice for me the answer is much more complicated than that. I’ve heard some authors say that upon publication they’ve felt numb, or scared, or nothing at all. That’s certainly not the case for me. I have felt elated, thrilled and joyous. I’ve also felt anxious, a bit stressed and possibly a little obsessive. And I’ve felt grateful, a lot of grateful, for those who’ve supported me, knowing that what is to many just one more book out there in the world is to me the realisation of years of ambition and work and hope.

Rainbow in a meadow


A lot has been said about hope:

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

“Hope is a good breakfast but it is a bad supper.” (Francis Bacon)

and my favourite,

“I am prepared for the worst but hope for the best.” (Benjamin Disraeli)

Yes, that’s the one. That’s how I feel now – hopeful, but in a realistic sort of way. I hope that things will go well with The Night Rainbow. That it will sell well and people will love it. That it might even get nominated for some kind of a prize. I probably should be being bashful and saying “Oh no, not my little debut, I’m just grateful it’s been published at all.” But let’s be honest, that’s not true. I do hope for still more good things. And I’ve felt this way at every step along my writer’s journey:

  • The sharing of a piece of writing with someone and waiting for their reaction, hoping for a positive one.
  • The submitting of a poem or a story into a competition and hoping for a placing or even a win!
  • Submitting work to a journal and hoping for acceptance.
  • Submitting to agents and hoping every the ping of every email is a request for a full.
  • Hoping that the publishers will want to offer a contract.
  • Hoping for foreign rights deals.
  • Hoping for a nice cover quote or two and then later for good reviews…

It’s not greedy to hope, it doesn’t mean you’re not very happy with what you already have. It’s simply picturing the road ahead in a positive light. Despite the inevitable rejections and disappointments along the way, we dare to hope in all aspects of our lives because if we didn’t, what would the future look like? We have hopes for our loved ones and for others around us, for ourselves and for our societies and beyond. And the fact we perpetually experience things not working out as we’d hoped doesn’t – or shouldn’t – teach us we were wrong to hope.

We can’t give up hope because it keeps us moving forwards, keeps us living.

I titled this post Great Expectations because some people have said things like ‘You must have great expectations for your book!’ But I don’t. Expectations are another matter. If your hopes are not met then there’s a twang of disappointment and you move on. But if have expectations, and they are unfulfilled the disappointment is much more profound. You probably don’t have a fall-back. Expectations don’t allow for being prepared for the worst.

So here I am, hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst, since there’s not much else I can do for this book. However, there’s a lot I can do for the next one, and hope won’t fix my edits… I’m putting my attention to those now so I can hand the new novel into my agent and start all over again…

7 Responses

  1. Annecdotist says:

    A lovely post, Claire. Hope is such a complicated emotion but it looks like you have it pretty much sussed. Great that you are so hopeful and your openness pulls other people on board and has us rooting for you. I had to smile when I saw the title as I also have a blog post entitled Great Expectations (not much of it my words but a link to an article by Shalom Auslander) which I guess entails using humour as a shield against the sense of vulnerability hope can bring to some of us.
    Good luck with the book. It’s on my wish list and I’m looking forward to reading it.

    • Claire says:

      Thank you, Anne! It is complicated isn’t it? And the British are very shifty around hope, because of our stiff upper lips and so on. I’ll have a look at your article shortly – very funny we have the same title! Glad to be on your wishlist and thank you for the luck!

  2. Beautifully put, Claire. You have obviously retained a sense of balance for the positive as well as the negative. Do you think it’s living here amongst the more pragmatic French?

    I am confident The Night Rainbow will go on to greater things and I wish you every piece of luck available. But I know you’ve put in the hard work and have the talent, no perhaps luck isn’t strictly required in your case. 😉

    • Claire says:

      Thanks, Alison! I’m not sure if it’s the French or not. I think I’m encouraged by how genuine and generous people have been in the run up to the launch. It’s lovely to feel people’s enthusiasm and to some extent it does fuel the hopefulness, but at the same time, I am so thankful for where I am already. It’s nice to be able to accept the balance of gratitude and hope. Oh and yes, I need all the luck I can get! I think we all do!

      • I completely agree about the generosity of other people. I am following a different route from you, but I’m overwhelmed by how kind and supportive people are. Sometimes, I wonder if they mean me!

        It’s corny, but I don’t think either of us would be where we are without our support teams. It’s reinforced how important it is to have colleagues and friends, whether professional or our mates, to get us to publication.

        Congratulations again on your successful and best wishes for your northern UK tour.

  3. Annecdotist says:

    I was interested in Alison’s suggestion that the ability to entertain hope might be cultural, which it might be but I don’t know much about myself, but I think it also relates to the security or otherwise of early childhood experiences, which I guess might also be pertinent to your novel, Claire

    • claire says:

      Hello Anne,
      Finally had a chance to follow the link – that’s a funny article!
      Now I’ve had the chance to chat to lots of people at signings etc, it seems that I missed out the other side of the coin, which is how hopeful other people are on my behalf. I think this can be infectious too, whatever age we are! x

Leave a Reply to Annecdotist