Expectation: Woo-hoo! You're armed with an MFA and you are going to write the s*%t out of your first book!
Reality: You don't actually have anything to write about yet.
Expectation: Once you've gotten started, you'll work on your book nonstop, fueled by creative passion.
Reality: Your moments of creative passion will come at odd times and may require liquid or food reinforcements.
Expectation: Using a vintage typewriter will turn you into a truly authentic writer.
Reality: Typewriters are THE WORST.
Expectation: Your technology will never fail you! Your MacBook is your best friend.
Reality: Let's talk again the first time you lose your ENTIRE book and NO, YOU DIDN'T BACK UP, thanks for asking.
Expectation: This is your idea of a "working writer."
Reality: This is what many a working writer looks like.
Expectation: You are confident that you have what it takes to make it.
Reality: Writing is the hardest thing ever!
Expectation: You'll become part of an inspiring community of writers who all support each other and love each other.
Reality: Maybe don't expect anyone to hold your hand.
Expectation: You'll wake up bright and early every morning, totally ready to spend the next eight hours immersed in the world of your story.
Reality: You really can't work without Freedom, the app popular with writers that shuts off your WiFi connection for a certain amount of time.
Expectation: Once you've gotten a draft of your novel, you're fairly certain you've written the next Infinite Jest.
Reality: You've written something that is in fact completely confusing. And now you have to revise for, like, a million years.
Expectation: You'll have a book deal in no time because your idea "is better than 99% of the other ideas out there."
Reality: Many weird ideas will sell before yours. Some may even be written by your friends.
Expectation: As a writer, you will have a special and beautiful space in which you craft your beauteous prose.
Reality: You never use that room. This is how you do all your writing.
Expectation: Your friends will give you honest critiques of your work.
Reality: They just might.
Expectation: Even if you haven't had your big break yet, you'll still live like a writer and practice your craft every day.
Reality: You feel guilty about how little you've written, so instead you take to Instagram to make it seem like you've just banged out 2,000 words.
Expectation: You'll just start a blog, it'll become super popular, and you won't even have to find an agent! They'll call you!
Reality: You'll have to write a detailed proposal, or write your whole book first before you start querying agents. And then, you will find that it takes many, many emails and time.
Expectation: Your daydreams of sharing your work at literary salons or at readings look like this.
Reality: Reading in public is a huge, huge deal, and you need to psyche yourself up to do it.
Expectation: Once you've gotten one book under your belt, you'll decamp to Paris for a bit and write from a rooftop garret.
Reality: Maybe settle for a month in Paris in an Airbnb rental that looks vaguely like the 1998 Ikea catalog instead.
Expectation: You are going to be the voice of your generation.
Reality: If you work hard enough, you may be A voice of A generation.