When I wrote about getting my agent and writing my current MS, I spoke a lot about hope.
Almost immediately after, I came across a wonderful post by Kristin Nelson, “What’s Your Magic Number,” about how many books most published authors write before they’re agented or published.
The reason these two things synced up in my mind was because they’re both about hope. But what I’m going to call “The ‘Right’ Kind of Hope.”
In writing and publishing there’s a lot of wishing, a lot of dreaming, and a lot of hoping. However, there is a big difference between hoping for things to just fall into your lap and knowing that hope needs to be mixed with a good amount of hard work and determination.
The wrong kind of hope can make you think that if you have an idea and get it down on paper, then you’re golden. The wrong kind of hope can make you think all of those “I wrote a book in a day and got a six-fig publishing deal” stories are the norm and that’s going to be you. The wrong kind of hope has you finishing your MS and then wondering how much you’ll get for the inevitable movie deal in such a way that distracts from much needed revision and honing.
This kind of hope can be debilitating. Because when you hope for something so grand and possibly misguided (such as writing a full book during NaNoWriMo, then querying in December, and getting a publishing deal in January) then any possible rejection will hurt that much more. It could potentially push you into a dark place that will be hard to climb back out of (and I say this because I experienced this. I wrote an MS for all the wrong reasons and thought I had it in the bag. And I failed miserably!).
As readers, we like to hear about how our favorite authors came up with their idea because they had a crazy dream, or saw a man save a girl from falling down the stairs in the subway, or read about a ghost ships in the harbors of Japan (this is an actual story I’ve read). But those stories gloss over the years it takes to go from idea to actual publishing. And it also never tells about the rejections that happened in between.
As writers, we need to know that “overnight success” stories are not the norm, they’re just the magical outliers that we love to talk about because they’re so interesting and induce a WOW reaction in us.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have hope. I believe in it so deeply that it brought me out of times where I felt like my writing and my life were going nowhere. I believe that it is important in any life, not just a creative one. It was actually very hard for me to even think of the title for this post because I don’t think I always know what the “right” kind of hope is (and isn’t it a bit presumptuous to believe I can say what’s right and wrong?). I was going to call it the “good” kind of hope and my critique partner said,”Isn’t all hope good?” I couldn’t necessarily say “No” to that because I believe that hope is a good thing.
I’ve read countless posts about how the thing that got most people published is an unwillingness to give up. THAT’s the kind of hope writers need. Because the thing that drives you forward even as you get dozens of rejections is the hope that someone will love your work.
ALMOST EVERY agent that requested material this time around rejected me when I queried them with my previous MS. It took me years to get an MS that was query-able and then even more time to get it in shape for sending it out to agents.
So, what I’m saying is that everyone should have hope, but have the right kind of hope.
The hope that tells you that the work you’re doing is good.
The hope that says that your late nights or early mornings putting in writing hours to hone your craft are worth it.
The hope that says that if you can keep working and dreaming, then you’ll find the perfect person to champion your work.
I hope for that for everyone.
Now here’s a GIF of J-Hope from BTS: