Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Survival Tip #14 - Don't Get Your Hopes Up

When I first started querying back in Fall of '04, I had wild dreams.  I let myself believe I'd send my magnificent work out into the world (by mail because at that time most agents didn't accept e-queries) and the SASEs would come flooding back with offers for representation.  I mean, come on, my book was freakin' awesome.  Who would possibly turn that work of brilliance down??

Okay, let's just say that 9 years later I still don't have an agent and leave it at that.  This isn't about rejection letters.  This is about getting your hopes up. 

Don't get me wrong.  Hope can be an awesome thing.  Sometimes it drives us to do things, to try things, we never would've dreamed of doing.  If I didn't have at least a little hope, I never would've been able to write that first book.

The problem comes when the hopes get too high.  They're up there in the stratosphere filling us with totally unrealistic expectations.  You've got to keep your hope tempered with reality.

Cuz, man, those rejections to my first book damn near unraveled me.  You see, my hopes had been so high that when they fell, the resulting impact made it so my second book - which I was working on like a good little writer while I waited - got crushed in the process.  I set it aside and didn't write a damn word for 9 months.  And when I finally got back to it, I was so disheartened that I thought I'd written the first book all wrong.  I changed my process to meet someone else's expectation of how a book was supposed to be written.  The end result was crap, btw.  (Good premise.  Bad writing.  I really need to re-write that sucker...)

Anyway, the point is that maybe if I'd tempered my hopes a little, I wouldn't have fallen as far and the hole I made wouldn't have been so hard to crawl out of.

If you want to survive this journey, keep your hope but rein it in. 

Time for the rest of you to chime in.  How has hope helped or hurt you?  What do you to rein it in?


  1. I agree with you. It's wonderful to dream, but keep it at that. You have to work hard and it's going to take years before you see any results--if you ever do. This business is tough.

  2. Dream about it. Work toward it. But writers--especially those beginning the process--need to understand that this is a business and it's an ugly world of supply and demand. It's not personal, even when it feels very much so.

    I took a chance on an MS. Sent it off. Didn't get an immediate rejection. Got an update from the publisher that was still under consideration and then three days later, a form rejection. Ah well. It will find a home elsewhere (it's still at another publisher) or I'll get around to adding it to my self-pub portfolio. In the meantime, I have two other active WIP projects, edits on a third, two more revision/additional content projects, upcoming conferences, marketing, and honing my craft so that each book is better than the one before it.

    Easy peasy, right? Yeah...about that. Deflated hopes still hurt. But we learn to work around them. I developed the attitude that I was going to be bigger, stronger, better. Like the Six-million Dollar Writer! (Ha! Yeah. I wish!! *rolls eyes* But that's what we need to do when faced with defeat.


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