Back on 1 April I shared a technique for managing my expectations to achieve the requisite number of lengths in my daily swim routine. I used the title ‘Subbuteo Swimming’ for my blog post that day. If readers were expecting some hilarious April Fool Day’s story about plastic footballers, they were disappointed. Sometimes though, our expectations aren’t met. Frequently this is disappointing, rarely is it exciting. Amongst the one-line top tips I’ve collected over the last few years one of my favourites is to try and make the next word as unexpected as possible. During an undergrad seminar we examined the literal, as opposed to the figurative. We also rewrote a number of similes. It’s easy. Think of any simile, there’s a fair chance it’s a cliché too. So, rewrite it, think about it for a while and there’s a myriad of options available. Don’t tell me something’s as cheap as chips, tell me it’s as cheap as the unbranded children’s building blocks in TKmaxx.

Digressed already, sorry! Too much Victor Hugo. Expectations. During the restructuring of my life I have spent a huge number of hours considering my expectations. Realigning them for greater efficiency. Never in my wildest dreams… whoops, never in my most outrageous hopes did I expect to be earning money from writing. And yet, here I am now and things are moving forward nicely. I enjoy the writing; I’m loving the challenge of writing a story over the length of a novel, of putting words together to make poetry, of trying to help others to work with their inhibitions and put pen to paper. Over the past month I’ve become involved with three different writing groups, have progressed a venture to teach in Kingston library, and am writing and proof-reading board games’ rules.

Relationships too tend be built around expectations. And how we communicate those of course. I feel sure that more open and honest talking would sort out so much of modern life friction. It’s about getting yourself across simply, and then listening. Don’t finish your sentence and start formulating the next one. Listen. I think I’m a pretty good listener, my problem is thinking I don’t have anything valid to say back. Get rid of that expectation and perhaps, who knows? I suppose that ties in with treating others, as you would like to be treated.

In the first draft of my second novel I didn’t really have the main character plotted out. After a couple of chapters I found him doing and saying things I would never have expected him too. He took on a life of his own and it became relatively straight forward to describe where he was, what he was up to, as if I was writing his biography almost. I loosened my expectations, I gave him freedom and he rewarded me.

Neil Horabin



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