Dealing with Hope

I know, I know.  The line’s supposed to be “dealing with rejection.”  But to be honest, the internet had me pretty well braced for it by the time I got around to asking for critiques, let alone querying.  The first couple times did sting a little, but I got over it surprisingly quickly.  Getting back to writing and keeping things in perspective really does help.

Photo © Linnéa Marks

Hope, now.  Hope’s a trickier beast.  It’s not quite acceptance—which I’ve heard comes with a whole new set of troubles—but it’s definitely not rejection.  It’s when you get that first request for a partial manuscript, and then a second, and then a full.  I don’t know about anybody else, but that’s when I start to imagine what if.

What if she really likes it?  I’ve heard stories about agents calling right away, excited to read the full manuscript.  What if that happens to me?  What if he offers representation?  What if they both do, how will I choose?  And then my mind goes spinning away into a fantasy-future where the agent of my dreams calls to say she loves my book, and what else am I working on, and she’d like to offer representation, and then my book goes to auction…

I have kept myself awake at night, more than once, because I am unable to stop my mind from playing through the entire hypothetical conversation.  Or the scenario where such and such editor just happens to be at the convention and I somehow become an amazing conversationalist and he loves my pitch and wants to buy my book.


It’s good to be prepared, but in the long run, dwelling on these kind of overinflated hopes will end up hurting more than the rejection ever could, because they’ll make any modest success look like it’s just not good enough.  I think I’m keeping my actual expectations pretty reasonable.  I’ve seen the statistics, I know how long it can take and how few writers really make it big.  Still, sometimes I can’t help but dream of the what ifs…

And then I dig back into my drafting, or editing, or synopsis-writing.  Nothing like a little fantasy to ground me in the realities of a writer’s life.