Hope for Forever

It used to be really puzzling to me how people could keep working on a story version after version, headache after headache, rejection after rejection — because for the longest time, I never did that. In the early writing days, I never actually tried to make anything better. I didn’t see the point. Story crap? Oh well, on to the next one!

As a result of this though, I never really formed a strong attachment to anything I wrote. I’d see people getting attached to their stories, and I’d think it was ludicrous. As the years went on though, I started to understand. They keep working to make their stories better because they want to. It’s because they have hope that if they work hard enough, the story will be good. It might even be great.

And I realized…I didn’t have that hope. On my earlier projects, I was convinced there was nothing I could do to make them publishable, either because I didn’t have the skills, or I didn’t know what I was doing, or whatever. But I was really short changing myself. I didn’t learn how to edit until I was in college — after I had been writing novels for a good 7 years!

Oh, the lessons I could have learned in those years!

When I learned to edit, and saw that I actually could make my stories better, I started to have hope. Hope that I could be great one day! Hope that I could go into a bookstore, ANY bookstore, and see my book on a new release display for anyone passing by to see. Then I’d go on an ice cream date and with my good friend Johnny Depp to celebrate.

Oh, the lofty, pie-in-the-sky dreams I had! ^_^

So, maybe someone remembers a little story entitled HOW DEEP IS MY DARKNESS (HDIMD): a paranormalish thingie I wrote last fall that I actually really, really like. At the time I finished it, I think I said something like (and I paraphrase because I’m too lazy to look), “Blah, blah, blah, not sure what to do with it so it’s just going to sit on my computer.”

Well…I wasn’t being entirely honest. Lol! 

No, after everything I went through with Chains of Destiny last year (cliff notes version: 100+ total form rejections on multiple queries and multiple versions), well, honestly, I was beaten. I became super duper SUPER depressed about my writing. So depressed, I wasn’t even happy about HDIMD when I finished. And worst of all, I had lost any and all hope that I had in myself, not only as a writer in general, but in my future as a writer as well. It was like, “Oh boy, another thing for people to crap on.” So after half-assing it through a few submissions, I gave up. Just like that. No fight, no emotion. I felt nothing. I didn’t even care.

And hope is important. Because it’s really REALLY hard to keep going without it. Sometimes when I’m struggling with this lack of hope and fighting to get it back, those 100+ Chains of Destiny rejections climb on top of the other 100+ rejections in my arsenal, and they weigh on me. They tell me it’s not worth it. They say, “What is the matter with you? You really think if you keep trying it’s going to make a difference? Look at all those NOs. Nobody gives a crap about you.”

And I keep thinking about it. And then the OCD flares up and I get in these moods where I think if I obsess over it enough, it’ll somehow change what happened, and I’ll have hope again and be able to write without attacking every single word that I type. Which is ridiculous, but try telling my brain that when it’s on the rampage.

It’s like, what kind of person keeps writing after submitting 6 stories and getting absolutely nowhere? And towards the end of the year, I’m quitting my job for six months so I can stay home and write full time.

And all the while hope dangles over my head and shrugs, “I’m just not going to fall on you, you know.”

It wants me to fight for it. But don’t I have to first have hope that the fight will be worth it?
So how do I get the hope to fight? I’m not just quitting my job, after all, to write. I’m quitting because I need an extended break, and this is the only way I’m going to get it. I’m not working on this story because I have hope for it, I’m working on it because I want to. I’m not going to send it out when I’m done because I have hope, I’m going to send it out because I won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t keep trying.

And maybe that’s more important than having hope right now…having a reason. any reason at all, to keep going. And maybe that’s how I’ll get it back. Maybe that’s how I’ll fight for it.

18 Responses to Hope for Forever

  1. It’s rough. I’ve got a few finished stories/novellas/novels that I’m not sure what to do with – keep tweaking and submitting, or throw in the towel. I’ve also felt that crappy feeling of falling out of love with your writing, and that can be super hard to get back. Good luck!

  2. #1 Forget querying.
    #2 Find some contests to enter
    #3 Attend some conferences and pitch agents directly

    I’ve seen the statistics, and they’re depressing. Agents will look at between 300 and 1500 queries a month. If their roster is pretty full, they’re not going to give much consideration to the incoming stuff. One agent said she got 350 requests a week, and in a month asked to see more on only 10, and that was cheating because 3 came from a live contest she helped with. Of those ten, she decided to represent 1. It’s too easy for an agent to click “no” on an impersonal email. It’s much harder when you’re face to face.

    Look for new agents if you want an easier time getting in the door. Submit to short story collections to get a couple credits under your belt, and I can’t say it enough: ENTER CONTESTS. Nothing seriously happened for me until I threw my writing at a few contests, casually, not caring if anything came of them. (Because I had absolutely no confidence anything would.)

    • Thank you. That’s good advice. ^_^
      Those stats really are depressing. Makes me feel like a tadpole in the ocean. I know there are a couple of contests going on this summer. I want to try those if my story is ready. Get over the fear of participating in stuff like that anyway. 🙂

  3. Sometimes I wonder if I’m completely delusional. Maybe my teachers only told me I was good at writing because I never talked in class. I mean, like, I still have issues with plotting, for crying out loud.

    But then, I think that I have really good ideas and I work hard at writing and I can’t imagine my life without it. So I keep going.

    I’ve done a few writing contests. I got really, really good feedback from one I entered a few years ago and once I finish this draft, I plan on looking around for some more to enter.

    • I’m trying to get better about looking for contests. I figure, there’s no harm in trying anyway. 🙂 I’ve missed out on a couple already because I keep forgetting about that story I don’t know what to do with. My theory has been, people had no reason to tell me I’m a good writer. They told me because they think it’s true. And good writers can be great writers. ^_^

  4. There are so many authors who admit their 1st drafts are trash. I know mine are. Even the 2nd, 3rd, 4th *takes deep breath*. . .it takes a lot of editing. Last week, I read an interview (some best selling author, dunno anymore) who admits he’s a terrible writer, but a totally awesome revisionist.

    • Awesome revisionist. ^_^
      I’m still working on those revision skills, but I do tell myself that revision fixes everything so not to fret when things aren’t perfect…which is always. 🙂

  5. This is one beautiful post, Krystal. Guess it applies to everything, not just writing. I guess a part of me is not even thinking about querying/finishing my draft because I have my exams to worry about. And it’s that kind of exam everyone writes, and while many get chosen, most of those chosen have very different experiences/more feet in the door than I do. But I keep fighting. And maybe it’s that chase for the psychological satisfaction that comes from knowing you tried your best, or maybe it’s because I want it, but I won’t give up. Not today, not ever. And that’s the spirit I have when it comes to writing.
    That’s the spirit I have for everything I want.

    So hang in there. Keep fighting, keep improving. One day, you’d look back and see how far you’ve come.

    • Thanks so much for this. ^_^ You know, I agree, it can be applied to lots of things. Anything we want, anything we’re striving for. My dad pushed me most of my life to make better grades, but I didn’t do it until I wanted to, because I wanted to prove to myself that despite several years of nearly non-existent studying habits, I could make really good grades if I tried. So I did. I feel the same way about writing right now. I want to keep going to prove to myself that I can, despite everything. Because I hope I will look back one day and see that all the rejections formed a staircase, and it will be all worth it, and I’ll be glad I kept going. 🙂

  6. Hey lady! Sorry I’m just getting to reading your posts now–between my nightmare workload and my nightmare internet, it’s been hard to catch/keep up.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your depression about your work. I’ve read your snippets here and there and truly believe you have something special–a and uniqueness talent that cannot be taught. Continue to work, continue to move forward and I KNOW you will achieve your goal, and then some!

    • No worries. ^_^ Thank you! Sometimes I think it really helps us believe in ourselves if someone else believes in us, too. That outside our own crazy brains prospective factor. ^_^

  7. This seriously made tears prick up in my eyeballs Krystal! The level of discouragement you described so exactly mirrors my own experience, and then to hear (or read) you say that “…[hope] wants me to fight for it” made me want to jump in the air in some writer’s war cry wielding my pen around in the air and…yeah…I might be getting a tad bit dramatic here. Let’s just say I second this entire post.

Hi! ^_^