H is for Hope

H is for HopeToday the A to Z Challenge continues! I’ll be posting about one letter/word on every weekday in April. Don’t want the barrage of posts? Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll let you know when I start doing new stuff next month!

H is for Hope.

There are thousands of fascinating stories about hope(when you get right down to it, almost every story is about hope at the core).

In the story of Pandora’s box, Pandora releases all the evils of the world, all the pain, suffering and monsters of today and past times, but she also releases hope. The implication is that hope could not exist without evil but neither could evil exist without hope. No matter how dark times get, there is always hope.

Hope is particularly important for writers. In fact, for many of us it’s the only nourishment we have. We write draft after draft of our beloved novels with nothing but the hope that somebody will read it one day to keep us going. We carefully craft query letters and spend hours agonizing over every synopsis, all because we believe there is hope. Hope that someone will pick our novel out of the slush pile and love it almost as much as we do(let’s face it: nobody will ever love our book babies as much as we do).

As someone who struggles with depression I often have trouble seeing this hope, but logically I always know it is there. There may only be five big publishers but there are hundreds of small ones eager to work with new writers. There are entire small presses dedicated to publishing first time authors. And even my harshest critique partner loves the core of my stories, the way my characters interact with each other and their world.

These are the things I tell myself when I’m struggling, when the words won’t come out or I’m staring at a scene I used to love wondering how I could have ever been proud of it. I remind myself that some writers have taken multiple decades to find a home for their work while I haven’t even known how to write for two entire decades. I go through the list of famous writers who have talked openly about their many rejections in my head: JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Stephen King(he actually had so many rejections he could have wallpapered his room with them). Even authors who have already published one book sometimes have their second or third novel rejected. Besides, I tell myself, I’m technically already making a living writing, albeit freelance writing non-fiction articles.

Sometimes telling myself these things helps, rekindles my sense of hope and inspires me to keep writing. Other days no amount of positive thinking helps and I only manage to force out a handful of awkward sentences. I’m committed to writing something every day, even if it’s only a sentence, but sometimes it really is as difficult as trying to pull my own teeth. I’ve always believed in my stories, but it has never been easy to believe in myself.

I know we all go through this, regardless of whether or not the thing we hope to accomplish is a successful career as an author. People in the arts are particularly susceptible to these hopeless days, thanks to a combination of increasingly difficult careers and a higher likelihood of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Some of us have days so hopeless we think the only answer is to kill ourselves–I’ve had many of those days myself.

Still, we push through it, one way or another, because it’s the only thing we can do. We know sooner or later the feeling of hopelessness will go away, even if it’s only for a few hours or days at a time. So we eat a little bit more dessert and try to go about our business. And if we’re lucky we manage to channel our hopelessness into an awesome article or scene(hint: I’m doing it right now).

Hope is a powerful thing. It can propel us through the most difficult situations–or cripple us if it disappears.

What are you hoping for? Do you ever feel hopeless? Let me know in the comments section below!

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