End of January

Honestly, I can’t believe it’s already the end of January. First month of 2021 is wrapping up tomorrow. Now, if you’re anything like me, the end of January can be a bit disappointing. I mean, at the start of the month, we celebrated a new year. We made new year resolutions (which some of us might have already given up on). We hope that this year will be a different year. A better year. Yet, when the first month goes by with more craziness than dreams come true, its hard to believe the rest of the year could be better. There’s 11 months left, so let me remind you that a lot could still happen and hopefully what happens is all good things.

Why do I find the end of January to be so disappointing if we still have 11 months to turn things around for 2021? The answer’s simple: I’m impatient. I’m sure I’m not the only one. We make our resolutions and we want to see results right away. My resolution was to write everyday–it doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I write something, but I haven’t been keeping up to that. Low motivation would hit or exhaustion or just downright busyness keeping me occupied. I want to write every day so that I could reach my goal of completing the sequel to my novel this year, and start the third book. Considering I have to rewrite three chapters, I’m not making a lot of progress, and that can add to the low motivation, the “I’ll never figure it out” doubt that keeps someone from writing, but the scenes deserve to be written right. Sometimes, you just gotta force yourself to sit down and write. I mean, I’ll never complete my sequel this year if I don’t write it. There’s still 11 months left, so it’s still possible.

Now, I know I’m not the only in this next endeavor. One of my top goals, hopes, and dreams for this year is to finally get an agent on board in representing my book. I’ve queried quite a few agents so far this year and as of the time I’m typing up this post (1/25/2021), I’ve only heard back from one, and it was a rejection. If that’s not a blow to the high hopes we all have at the start of the year, I don’t know what is. Yet, there’s still 11 months left, so its still possible.

We all think that a new year means a new start. We’re going to see changes like there’s some kind of magic that happens when the calendar year goes up by one. Then, the end of January comes around and not much is different from last year. Well, there’s still 11 months left, so it’s still possible.

Whatever the dream, the resolution, the goal, there’s still time to complete it. Allow me to encourage you to not give up! There’s still 11 months left to finish that book, or query an agent, or lose the weight you want to lose, or learn that skill you’ve always wanted to know. Whatever it is, keep at it. It may be the end of January, but there’s still a whole lot of year left. Keep going.

To Fly Free

Watch the bird soar through the air
So graceful, calm, and free
It need not worry of predators below
It’s high in the sky, in flight and free

So graceful, calm, and free
Could a ground’s prisoner ever achieve?
That high in the sky, in flight, and free?
To feel the wind rushing past you?

Could a ground’s prisoner ever achieve,
Real freedom from the world below?
To feel the wind rushing past you,
As you and you alone take flight.

Real freedom from the world below,
It must be possible to succeed
As you and you alone take flight,
The clouds are your terrain and you to fly free.

The Anxiety in the Query

It’s all typed up. You’ve gone through this a least a hundred times before. The query letter, the pitch, similar books, your bio. By now you’ve got them all saved on a word document, so it’s just a quick copy and paste with a few edits here and there to personalize it for every agent. You look it all over to make sure it’s correct. No typos, no grammar issues, or spelling errors. You triple check you have the right agent’s name. Quadruple check that they’re actually someone you want to query too and now all you gotta do is hit submit. You hover your mouse over the button. One easy click and it’s on its way, but then you wonder what’s the point?

You’ve lost count of how many “no’s” you’ve gotten. Of how many agents that didn’t even bother to respond. There’s a log in your journal of every query and every rejection, every alpha and beta reader, and a crossed out list of those who’ve…stopped reading or didn’t even start. Maybe you’re doing it all wrong, you wonder. Maybe there’s something that’s just not clicking? Is the hook not strong enough? Is Chapter 1 too lame? Is the word count too intimidating? Are you even selecting the right agents to query too? Is the story not as good as you thought? A heavy sigh escapes your lungs and you move your hand away from your mouse. All you have to do is click submit, but the anxiety is constricting your lungs and your heart is breaking. What’s the point of hitting send, when you’ll just receive another no?

You close your eyes and envision your characters, every single one of them, and you think of all the blood, sweat, and tears all of you have gone through to make this story happen. A handful of them gave their lives and another gave everything but his life (though you know he would, if you let him). Your main character walks over to you and looks over your shoulder at the computer screen.

“I’ll do my best to sound appealing. They seem like a good choice.”

“You always do your best,” you tell him. You try to smile to lift his spirits, but it’s clear he’s as discouraged as you are. All you do is hit submit. He’s the one who has to catch an agent’s interest. “It’ll be alright.” He gives you a look of doubt and you know what he’s thinking. Alright doesn’t sell your book.

“You should let me go!”

You turn around to see one of your other characters striding right up. Her hands are on her hips and her chin’s up in the air. A fire sparks in her eyes when you look at her. “I’ll get those agents in our corner!”

An unstoppable laugh breaks from your lips. “You?! If I send your sassy pants out there, we’ll never get published.” You look back at the computer screen and read over your query letter once again. “Likely, you’ll say something that’ll insult every single one of them.”

“Well, it’s not my fault they’re–”

“Don’t even finish that sentence.” You cut her off with a stern glare. “It’s up to him to hook the agents.”

When you motion to your main character, Miss. Sassy Pants rolls her eyes. “Right, because he’s so freaking special.” Before you have a chance to reply, she storms off.

“She’ll get over it.” Your main character watches her go, but when he looks back at you, he shrugs. “Eventually.”

“I know.” A defeated sigh slips from your lips and you stare once again at your computer screen. “She’s just frustrated. We all are. We’ve put so much into this and we haven’t even gotten a nibble.”

“Maybe this time will be different?”

You know he means well with the question, but you both share the same doubt. The effort to give an encouraging smile is too much of a strain. You lean back in your chair and find that you can’t even look at him. “It probably won’t be.”

“Then we’ll just try again!”

The loudness of the voice causes you to start. You and your main character turn around to find one of your oldest characters walking up. He plants his hands on his hips and gives a smile that might as well have its own light. It warms your heart when you see him, but you know exactly what’s coming.

“Try again?” Your main character attempts to argue for you. “We keep trying. We’ve been trying! Eventually, we’re going to run out of agents to query too!”

The smile on your older character’s face only widens. “Then we’ll query all the agents again!”

You shrug and refuse to look at either of your characters. “We’ve started doing that. It’s not working either.”

Your older character gives you an amused look and you begin to wonder why you made him so freaking optimistic. “What are those people on that blue bird…” He motions to your computer, not knowing what it is. “…thing…always telling you? Stay positive. Stay productive. Share your wins even if they’re small. If something isn’t working, revise, like you did with that letter there.” He points to your query letter, which you’ve improved thanks to those people on that blue bird thing. “We’ve still got a shot.”

“Yeah, but–”

“I’m going to stop you right there.” He cuts both you and your main character off and that twinkle in his eyes you love so much melts your heart. “You’ve wanted this for as long as I’ve known you and I, frankly, would like something to come out of everything you put me through! I don’t care how high the hurdles are. You know nothing is impossible. You know our novel is in good hands. You just need to be patient in hope.” He glances at your main character and nods to himself. “I’ve seen with my own eyes how patience can persuade kings and how the outcome of the waiting is often grander than we ever hope for. We’ll get there eventually, we just can’t give up.”

You know he’s right. You know you’re bound to get a yes one of these years, but you can’t shake the feeling that it’ll never come. “I just don’t know how many more rejections I can take.”

“Take them all.”

Those three words out of your older character’s mouth actually surprise you. “Excuse me?”

“Take. Them. All.” Now his face is beaming. “The more you have, the more proof you have of growth and overcoming. With every rejection, the sweeter the joy of an acceptance will be. As long as you keep improving and growing after every rejection, you’re still making progress.” He points at your computer screen, right at the submit button. “Just keep trying.”

“He’s got a point.” Your main character takes a deep breath and the look on his face tells you he was mildly kicking himself. “I mean, what we going to do? If we stop trying, we’ll just be stuck on your dusty bookshelf forever and not everyone’s dusty bookshelves forever.”

“Alright.” You manage a smile as you finally cave in and once again you’re grateful for every single one of your characters–even Miss. Sassy Pants. You put your hand back on your mouse and find the submit button once again. When anxiety presses against your chest, you take a deep breath to fight it back. Hesitation lingers in your fingers as the whispers of rejection weave through your ears once again. Yet, your characters lay their hands on yours and their encouraging smiles chase the whispers away. You nod to them and steel yourself. “No matter the outcome, we’ll keep trying.”

Writing Prompt: An Alien Disguised Among Humans

Include the following in your story: Aurora Borealis, paint brush, corn field, cluster, lineup, overlook, suspect, bridge, dome, dash.

“Dongion to Mothership. Repeat. Dongion to Mothership.”

“This is Mothership. You are due for a report Dongion.”

A thin smile curled upon Dongion’s lips when the voice of his superior came across the communicator in his hands. He glanced up and down to the alley to make sure he was still alone.

“Dongion? Report.”

“I have found the perfect location.” Donigon paced slowly up and down the alley to tame the giddiness that buzzed in his gut. Yet, he couldn’t hide the delight from his tone. “I have lived among this curious cluster of humans for a week now. They have much potential, but I dare say, they are disappointing.” He paused to scowl at some graffiti on the wall. Such toxic chemicals in that scribble they called art.

“You think you found a suitable planet? Our instruments can’t get any readings off that heap of rock.”

“That is because Earth has an atmosphere far different than our own.” Dongion’s grin widened and he took a deep breath. “It is delightful. They have these things called trees that clean the air and this refreshing…” He struggled to find the word. “…wet substance they call water. It is such a beautiful planet and dare I suggest, we could take it with the stroke of a paint brush.”

“A paint brush?”

“Pardon,” Dongion chuckled. “It is a saying they use down here. Humans do have an intriguing side.” He cleared his throat, realizing that this was not what his superior wanted to know. He glanced up and down the alley again. “However, we must act quickly if we are going to occupy this planet. The humans are killing it.”

“What?!”

“I shared your surprise as well.” Dongion nodded, his face fell graver with every word he spoke. “The humans are knowingly and willingly killing this beautiful planet. Their filth and stench pollute it further and further by the day. If we do not act quickly, it will even become too inhospitable for us.”

“Then these humans are undeserving of this planet. What kind of resistance can we expect?”

“Not much.” Dongion shrugged. “The humans barely notice each other. They will not notice us.” He lost count of how many times he watched humans pass starving humans on the side of the street or how they were too focused in their devices to even listen to each other. It disgusted him. “They do not even know that life lives beyond their planet. If done correctly, the takeover will be swift and easy.”

“I assume you have a plan already?”

“Indeed.” Dongion grinned once more. “We could even preserve some of the history of this planet and shame the humans as well. It would be much more satisfying than to just exterminate all of them.” He cleared his throat. “If the humans spot our ships in their sky, they will scramble and some will resist. Now, there are a handful of humans out in space currently–working on satellites and exploring–but a Tabaxian dome around them would cut off their communications and keep them from warning the humans on Earth. As for the humans on Earth, we should not offer a surrender. They have too many tales of resistances. Those that surrender could be feigning it to gain our trust and then stab us in the backs.” Dongion paused when someone passed by the end of his alleyway. “Other humans will try to dash for glory, but they can easily be incinerated by our blasters. There are those of weak will down here that will lineup for enslavement. If we offer food, housing, and protection to those who are starving, lonely, and forgotten, they will repay us with servitude. What good is freedom if you are dying in it, after all?”

“Well done, Dongion. I am impressed with your research.”

Dongion swelled. “I have prepared a full report for the Queen and I am eager to return. As a collective, we could take victory over the humans and make this dying planet healthy again.”

“You will personally make your report to the Queen. Is your pod still intact?”

HE would make his report to the Queen?! Dongion almost jumped for joy! What an honor! He had to take a moment to calm himself, so his childish giddy wouldn’t seep through his voice. “My pod is intact under a nearby bridge.” The underside of the bridge was chalk full of trash, so his pod went overlooked by the humans. He wanted to lay his pod down in a corn field, but someone else was occupying it. He would’ve liked the corn field, it wouldn’t have been as stinky as the underside of the bridge.

“Take your pod to the Aurora Borealis. We will pick you up there. Mothership out.”

The communicator fell silent, but Dongion held it like he were holding a trophy. He had finally done it. He had finally done something for the good of the collective! “We will thrive if we’re able to save this planet.” Donigon turned his gaze up toward the hazy blue sky. A smog of pollutants was blurring the beauty of the clouds drifting overhead. He’d go back, report to the Queen, and the takeover would begin. The humans wouldn not suspect a thing.

Reach for the Sunrise

Everyday I go to work, I drive down this long, dark road. There are no streetlights to light the way. The trees hang overhead like fingers ready to close on top of you. And the road itself is rough with patches and potholes and strips so rattling it could rock pieces from your vehicle. Don’t even bother trying to drive on it when it snows. You’ll end up in the ditch.

I think it’s pretty cool to drive on that dark road and wonder what’s hiding beyond the reach of your headlights. Yet, some mornings, when the weight of disappointment or doubt or any other negative trait anyone could feel ashamed for hangs heavy on your shoulders, that dark road has a lot more meaning to it.

Maybe you always hear that metaphor of “driving down the road of life,” or “life is a highway,” but maybe you need to hear it again? Sometimes, the road gets dark. You only have your light to shine the way and it may not feel like enough. You can’t see beyond the trees, a deer might dart out in front of you and ruin your plans, or you pass a creepy figure walking down the middle of the road. Then, you got the rough patches and potholes shaking you up. You could try to avoid them, but then you’re not watching for deer. Dark times can feel overbearing. There’s so much to focus on, so much you have to do, that something can hit you out of nowhere and it’ll feel like everything is falling a part.

I’m sure you can relate my dark drive to work to something in your life that’s hanging on your heart. Maybe career, maybe family, something medical? Whatever it is, there is a bright side and in my little tale, I literally mean bright.

I take this long, dark road to work, and at the end of it, I get to a hill that scares the living daylights out of me when it snows. It’s a tall hill with potholes in the exact spots where everyone likes to drive. My truck is a manual, so shifting is a challenge when we reach this hill, and my old man (truck) complains when we don’t have the momentum to stay in the proper gear. Yet, even with how difficult this hill is. It’s still my favorite part of the drive. Here’s why:

The road faces east and with the hill, the trees part so you can see the horizon way above your head. Above that, you can see the glow of the early morning light. Sometimes, its a warm yellow like the sun is about to pop over and smile at you. Other times, its a hazy orange or depending on the cloud cover you get majestic violets and blues that give a dreamy look to the morning. It gives me hope for the day and it’s a nice reminder that brighter times are bound to come.

Lately, the cloud cover has been so thick with winter weather that the horizon stays dark when I reach that hill. I could let it discourage me. Let it be an omen for a rotten day to come, but just because I don’t see the morning light, that doesn’t mean the sun isn’t coming up. I just focus on avoiding the potholes and I hope that tomorrow will have more of a heavenly glow.

When the hill does shine with morning light. I try not to take my eyes off it. It’s a beautiful reminder that it’s always darkest before the dawn (a literal reminder in this case). I could focus on the potholes and how my truck is struggling, but I’ve never not made it up that hill. I’m not going to believe I’m not going to make it up this time or the next time or the time after that. If I worry about that, then I miss the sunrise, the brightness of what’s ahead.

Now, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this by now. Whatever’s going on in your life, you could sit there and stare at your troubles, your metaphoric potholes, or how you’re barely moving forward. Or, you could focus on what’s ahead. Focus on dreams coming true and that hope on the horizon. Don’t let the dark road you might be on overcome you. Reach for that sunrise and eventually you’ll get there. I believe in you.

Robbed

She can’t see her beauty.
Robbed from her eyes like a thief in the night.
She looks in the mirror and sees only her flaws.
What confidence she had is gone.
Her smile graces her lips no more.
What beauty is there in a broken heart?

In the soul, feeling unwanted.
No one would turn their eye to her invisible tears.
She hides her pain to keep the illusion.
People are proud. They think her strong.
None know the pain that’s lasted this long.

When they ask, she lies quick.
And no one dares break beyond her defense.
No one will push her to tell the truth.
No tough love to start a healing proof.

Her smile graces her lips no more.
What confidence she has is gone.
She looks in the mirror and sees only her flaws.
Robbed from her eyes like a thief in the night.
She can’t see her beauty.

Written 9/25/2017

Maybe You Can Relate?

I got a question for all you fellow writers out there. Do any of you look back on your old writings: old drafts or stories, and just cringe? You take a look at something and think: “Did I seriously write that? Oh, my god! It’s so bad!” I’ll tell you what: I cringe A LOT at my old writings.

For example: I located a writing notebook I had in sixth grade. SIXTH GRADE! I was 11 years old! The first few pages of the notebook are all little short stories that were told to write in class. We’d be given a picture or a topic or go clip out a newspaper headline and then write a story about it. I read through a couple of them and…Oof…Not only is my handwriting super messy, but I clearly couldn’t spell to save my life back then!

Turn a few more pages and you get a five page story assignment (which mine was broken up because there’s a whole reflection of a field trip right in the middle of it). I didn’t even want to read it. I remember writing it. It was based off a book we read called The Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. However, we had to change the curse in the book and make it our own. I made my mine The Animal Curse (surprise, surprise)! Since the assignment involved our classmates, our teacher was strict about making sure we got permission to use others in our story–there wasn’t anyone who didn’t give permission. Maybe you’ve got some old cringe-y writing assignments from elementary school you’d like to share?

That was the last of my assignments in the notebook. We didn’t actually do a lot of writing that year, so we didn’t even fill up a fourth of the notebook. However, I found another way to utilize the notebook: by writing my first “novel” in it. You see, when I reached seventh grade, I had a language arts teacher who was very impressed with a writing assignment I did. She read it to the entire class and even my classmates were impressed and wanted to know who wrote. Being the shy kid I was, I shook my head when my teacher looked at me in asking me permission to tell the rest of the class, and she didn’t reveal me as the author. No one found out who wrote that creepy onomatopoeia assignment.

Encouraged by that assignment and the upcoming Halloween, I started a ‘novel’ in my old writing notebook. It grew to 31 handwritten pages long! But…it’s not finished. I think I stopped writing it because it got to a scene were I got writer’s block and I never overcame it. It’s not the best writing, but the ideas are pretty interesting. I called it The Curse of Hallow House, and it’s about these three friends who are dared to enter an old mansion on their street (Hallow House), on Halloween night. Going inside, they end up discovering this enchanted, jeweled jack-o-lantern, but it’s incomplete. The pieces of it’s smile are scattered around the house and when the kids find them, they put the jack-o-lantern back together. In doing so, they unknowingly unleash a curse throughout the town. Everyday afterwards is Halloween again with a pumpkin moon shining overhead. What’s worse, is that everyone is turning into their costumes. So, if you dressed up like a zombie, congrats, you’ve become a zombie.

As terrible as the writing is, I think the story has some pretty good potential. I might attempt a rewrite someday and actually finish it. But, back to the point of this post: even though my writing was purely awful way back when, it’s a good reminder of how much I’ve grown. I mean, every professional was once an amateur, right? The same could be said for any other talent or passion you might have. If you want to learn to cook, you gotta keep trying recipes. If you want to sing, you gotta keep tuning your voice. If you want to be a writer, you gotta keep writing. Eventually, you’ll get to a point where you’ll look back and think: “WOW, I can’t believe I wrote/made that! That’s so cringe-y!” But it’s progress and that should be enough to encourage you to keep going. Maybe ten years from now, you’ll look back at something you wrote or did today and think: “I’m so much better than I was back then!” At least, that’s what I’m hoping for. Keep dreaming, you guys, and feel free to comment below if you can relate!

Writing Prompt: A Fishing Trip

Include the following in your story: jig, unsightly, wait, beam, shoulder, grey, reminder, mouth, Canada, river.

Nothing beats the clean, serine, tranquility of the wilderness. You find some time to get away, do some research, and suddenly you’re floating down a river in Canada with a fishing pole in hand. There’s nothing unsightly about this scene. Tall pines stretch toward the clear blue sky on either shoulder of the river. You spot wildlife: squirrels, elk, and even bears calmly sauntering through the woods and paying you no mind. Beams of sunlight sparkle on the river like ribbons of silk. Somewhere, under its depths, is a large-mouthed bass just waiting to be caught and you’ve got all the time in the world to catch it. A bit of grey swims by your boat and you’re happy to see a turtle enjoying the river as much as you are. One deep breath of the refreshing pine scent and you let it out feeling all the more relaxed. The peace brings a joy to your heart and you could almost dance a little jig. Yet, your favorite thing about today is the reminder of how great God’s creation really is.

Any Reason to Hope

We’re on to a new year and with it, I’m sure many have taken a deep breath of sweet relief. 2020 is finally over and hopefully its shenanigans are gone with it! Those of us who have been hit with hard times in 2020 look to 2021 and think: “There’s no possible way this year could be any worse!”

Well, don’t jinx us. Please. Just knock on wood RIGHT NOW!

Regardless, whether we’re entering a new year or not, I believe anyone and everyone can find a reason to hope for the days, months, and years ahead (you don’t even have to be religious to find that hope). You could think back to a time someone said a kind word to you that restored some of your faith in humanity. Maybe something big happened to you back in 2020 and that was your anchor through the rest of the year’s nonsense. Hope can even be found in something as simple as the sunrise or a cloud in the shape of a heart.

I started to keep a hope journal of events that gave me hope when I needed it the most. And I like to look back on it every now and then as a reminder that things are going to be okay when I just feel like giving up. I would encourage everyone to keep a hope journal. You don’t have to be a great writer or jot down every little thing that happens to you throughout the day. You only have to write what gives you encouragement. For example, my cousin took a really important test in 2020, and she was very nervous about it. Yet, after she took her test, she was heading back to her car and she spotted a cardinal sitting on it. Now, in my family, cardinals are signs that someone you love in heaven is visiting you, and when she saw that cardinal, she knew our grandfather was visiting her and cheering her on. It gave her hope that she passed the test, and she did.

Now, for me, I started writing a hope journal back in 2019. My very first entry in the journal happened when I was at my grandparents’ condo at the Lake of the Ozarks. Most of the family goes every year and we all hang out, swim, go boating, and play games. Well, it was about the middle of the day, nothing was really going on with the family, so I had some down time. I was sitting on one of the couches with my story journal in my lap. I was trying to write a scene for one of my novels and I was just struggling with it. I kept rereading my scene over and over again and I hated it! The wording didn’t sound right, my handwriting was sloppy, and it didn’t feel like the characters were doing what they would do naturally–it felt forced! I was starting to get frustrated since I didn’t know how to fix it and that led to me wondering what was the point of me trying to write this story? No one was interested in it. If my writing was this bad for this scene, then how bad is it in all the other scenes I’ve written? I was quickly getting caught up in an entangling web of doubt. It felt like I was sinking to the bottom of the lake outside the condo. I just wanted a glimmer of hope, no matter how small.

Then, my godmother walks into the condo with a kid’s meal from McDonald’s. She had the toy from the meal in her hand and she called out to everyone in asking if anyone wanted it. Someone asked what it was and she says it’s some kind of Snoopy toy. Well, my oldest brother loves Snoopy, and I figured he might like it. So, I holler out an: “I’ll take it” and my godmother tossed it over. I took the wrapper off to get a look at it and it’s just a little keychain that leaves the impression of Woodstock on a piece of paper, but I was surprised by the fact that it was Snoopy, sitting on top of his doghouse, with a typewriter in front of him. Every toy has a title, so I grabbed the wrapper to see what this one was called and what I read almost brought me to tears:

Famous Author Snoopy

Famous Author Snoopy! Here I was questioning my merit as an author and this little toy was tossed right in my lap. This was exactly the hope I needed. Call it a coincidence, if you will. Say it’s a sign from God, but reading those three little words freed me from the web of doubt that drowned me. My family didn’t realize what was going. They were just going about making plans and didn’t even notice that I was trying not to cry on that couch. I looked back at my scene–yes, I still hated it, but this was the first time I was writing this scene. My first drafts are always the worst drafts. I could still make something of this: clean it up, figure out my characters, and type it on a computer so it doesn’t look so sloppy. I may not become famous, but I could still be an author like this little Snoopy toy. I still have the toy. It never made it to my oldest brother and it never will. I like to keep it as a reminder of hope and an answered prayer.

So, that’s the kind of things that I keep in my hope journal. Maybe you just want to write something as simple as “New Year, new me.” 2020 strengthened you, challenged you, and now you’re ready for 2021. Whatever it is, I know you can find hope in something and I hope you keep a journal of those somethings, so you can look back at all the blessings you’ve found. Guess it’s kinda similar to that old saying of “count your blessings.” If you focus on what’s good, then you got a weapon against the bad. Whatever happened to you in 2020, you overcame it, and I know 2021 will have lots of good things in store and I pray they’re all blessings and dreams come true. We’re all in this together anyway, so maybe that could be your reason to hope?

If you want, feel free to comment any moments of hope you’ve had for yourself! Post it here, post it on my Facebook post, Twitter, wherever! I’m sure it’ll be encouraging to everyone who reads it. Thanks for taking the time to read this. May your 2021 be full of hope.

Dream Beyond the Doubt

Everyone has a dream. A dream to fall in love. A dream to be successful in a certain career. A dream to visit someplace or see someone. Yet, there’s always that voice inside your head that whispers doubt. Maybe it whispers that you’re not good enough to be loved or you don’t have what it takes to climb the ladder in your dream career. Maybe you don’t have the funding to go to that one location you always wanted to see or that someone you want to meet is always out of reach, why would they notice you? Why should your dream come true?

I think I’ve made my dream pretty clear. I want to be a published author. I want to write fantastic, magical, and exciting stories that people all over will love. However, that’s a pretty big ambition, and discouragement hits at every turn. When no one provides and no agents express a desire to represent me, the doubt in my head can get pretty loud and hounding. Some nights, it makes me wonder if its worth sitting at the computer and writing anything at all.

I like to think that every aspiring author in the world believes that they have the greatest story–the next Harry Potter–they just need someone to give them a chance. I like to think that about other writers, because that’s how I feel. Maybe, saying my novel is the next Harry Potter is too bold a claim, but it is a good book with good characters, and lessons to light the way. Yet, then comes the wondering. Even though I think my novel is fantastic, that doesn’t mean its true. How can a novel be good if no one except the author gives it the time of day? That’s some pretty heavy doubt.

I recently watched the movie: Stranger than Fiction with Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. It’s about a man, with a rather dull life, who suddenly starts hearing a voice narrating everything he does. Turns out, an author in that same city is writing a book and he’s the main character. Unfortunately, this author is an author of tragedies, and the main character finds out he’s going to die. It’s a great movie. I certainly enjoyed it, but I watched it from an author’s point of view. At one point, the author in the movie and her main character meet (and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve envisioned what it would be like if I got to meet one of my characters. I would be ecstatic–well, depending on the character, of course. I certainly wouldn’t want to meet the main bad guy). I like to think of my characters like imaginary friends. I’d ask them questions and ponder their responses or they’d be my escape in a moment of reality I don’t want to be a part of. Often times, they help me be bolder, or kinder, or whatever it is that they would do if they found themselves in a situation that I end up in. It might sound crazy, but my characters are certainly more than words on a page.

Stranger than Fiction is not a movie that’s suppose to make you cry, but I cried. There’s a scene where the author finds herself in terrible conflict and doubt. She’s leaving her workplace in utter disarray because she’s torn on the scales on whether or not to continue her novel. Whether or not she should kill her main character. That’s when someone in the movie comes running up to her with a smile on their face. They hand her the nearly completed manuscript for her novel and say just a few simple words that brought tears to my eyes:

“I loved your book. I think you should finish it.”

That’s all any author wants to hear, right? You put your heart, sweat, and tears into a novel and you just want to know if it’s all worth it. The same goes for any dream! If you want to be an actor, you want someone to say “I love your acting. I think you should pursue this.” Or maybe you want to be something else? Maybe that dream location that seems so far out of reach or that chance of falling in love is possible. Fighting for your dreams alone sucks and yet, one word of encouragement from someone else can go a long way and fight our battles in one swing rather than our desperate solo swipes.

I like to believe I’m a good writer. This website seems to be doing pretty well and the members of the roleplay I’m a part of told me once that they looked up to me. They strive to be better writers because of how I’ve been writing in our roleplays. That’s good and all, but its my novel that my writings are supposed to be supporting and with how busy 2020 is for everyone, reading is not a priority, so the discouragement that maybe my novel isn’t good enough is heavy on my heart. I keep holding on, though, and I pray that something will give. I hold faith that the people I’ve asked to read my novel will get it back to me soon, but even though 2020 is ending, that doesn’t mean all the craziness that came with it will leave as well.

I’ll be honest. I thought 2020 would be my year. I thought an agent would decide to represent me and I’d be on my way to getting published. I’ve spent eleven years now writing my novel and I’ve learned a lot within that timeframe on how to improve my writing and craft a good story. Yet, as the years stretch on, there’s that nagging of impatience that just eats at my skin. I’ve spent ELEVEN YEARS improving this story, how many more is going to take for it to get published? What else do I possibly need to learn to earn my way into a paperback novel? It’s a struggle, but as someone reminded me recently: it’s not my timing. I’m certainly learning patience (or trying too, but I’d rather not wait until I’m fifty for my novel to get published). If anyone out there has any advice on how to improve my chances, I’d love to hear it. If you’re willing to spare a prayer, I could use all the help I could get. Let me know if there’s a dream of yours I could pray for too. Eleven years is a long time, but I’ll wait as long as it takes to hold a published version of my novel in my hands. I mean, I’ve gone this far, why give up now? Why let the doubt win?

Whatever dream you have, I hope you stick to it. Don’t give into the doubt that you’ll never make it. Whatever you’re pursuing. Whatever goal you’re reaching toward. Don’t give up! A dream can’t become reality through a magic snap of the fingers. It takes sweat, determination, hard work, and a refusal to give up. So, don’t listen to the doubt, because that’s a load of lies and it can’t stop you! It’s like that old saying that I heard in school over and over and over again: you only truly fail when you stop trying. 2020 sucked for a lot of us, but that doesn’t mean that your dreams are over. I had high hopes for this year and I just I ended up losing count of all the rejections and passes I’ve gotten for my novel. Yet, I keep querying, because if I stop, then I’ll truly never get published. The same goes for any dream: wanting to fall in love, wanting that big career, wanting to change the world, or visit some special place. As long as you keep trying and pursuing that goal, you still have a chance. So, don’t listen to the doubt. Go beyond it and make your dreams come true.