Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What Do You Do To Keep Hope Alive?

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.

My response:

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?

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