The question asked to me was: What do you do to keep hope alive while you wait? The insinuation was: While I wait for the reply from a literary agent, or while I wait for the editor of a magazine I'd just sent my story to, or while I wait for my taking-forever novel to be done.
1. I look around at others who are only their jobs. I remind myself that I don't want to look like that, for they often look miserable.
2. I write for myself. To better understand my world. To better understand me.
3. I don't feel bitter about the success of others because they don't write what I write and I don't write what they write. Each artist and his work are a unique tandem, and so I remind myself that such comparisons are impossible.
4. I don't write because of my dreams. I write towards my dreams.
5. I remind myself that, although agents are not infallible (re: J.K. Rowling), they are also not idiots. They have to take on projects they believe they can sell, period. They have mortgages, too.
6. I write different things. Though my current novel is taking beyond forever, I have finished and sold some short stories. Though only Alice Munro and two or three lucky others can make careers out of selling short stories, the fact remains that I have sold some, and this gives me confidence--which is invaluable, and can't be taught.
7. I think, "Why not me?" Stephen King used to work in a laundry. He lived in a trailer and typed Carrie on a laptop--a busted, old typewriter on his lap. J.K. Rowling was a single mom on welfare with three kids.
8. I remember that it's a business. Dreams don't sell. Good writing does.
9. I always have something to work on next. After I send out a short story, or a query letter, etc., I get busy on the next page of my story and novel. I don't leave myself time to worry about the stuff I just sent out. I'm not J.D. Salinger or Harper Lee anyway: One novel probably won't make a career for me. Best to be working.
10. I write.
What do you do to keep your hope alive? What are you hoping for?