Keeping Hopes Alive (for writers and others)

January 21, 2012

My Dad loved to tell a story about my cousin who, when he was in first grade, came downstairs one morning, set a copy of Black Beauty on the corner of the kitchen table, and said, “Nobody move that. We’re learning to read today and I’m going to read it when I get home.” Family lore does not record how the little six-year-old felt when he came home and couldn’t read his beloved Black Beauty that evening. I can imagine his disappointment. I wonder if it colored his feelings about reading thereafter?

Great Expectations. A Dream Deferred. Many titles of both books and poetry speak to this story of a little boy believing that “learning to read” would immediately and fully open up the door to words, and books, and all the mysteries therein. Great expectations and dreams deferred are part of a writer’s life as well.

How many of us, as new writers, have believed our manuscript to be an exciting, wondrous thing, and have sent it out to a publisher then eagerly awaited the news that would surely come, that the publisher loved our book and would be adding it to their list? And how many of us have felt the keen, sharp pain of that first rejection letter, felt our great expectations become a dream deferred? I wonder how many writers give up at that point?

Both emerging readers and emerging writers need to learn to persevere (one of my grandmother’s favorite words — I always hear it in her Scottish voice when I read it). Perhaps we need to adjust our dreams a little, or rather, recognize that there are slow and careful steps to be taken as we work toward the realization of our dreams. So we work, and we get exasperated, and we try out words, and stumble over them, but bit by bit we build our confidence at stringing words together, bit by bit we start to see real stories emerging — and eventually, like a new reader who has all the world of books now open to her/his delight, we are ready to soar.

As another of Langston Hughes’ poems about dreams exhorts us,

Hold fast to dreams,

for if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird
that cannot fly.

How do you hold fast to your dreams?

12 People reacted on this

  1. I guess holding onto your dreams goes along with something my mom has always said – nothing worth having comes easily. Part of what makes the realization of a dream so worthwhile is that you had to work hard to get it – prove your worth to yourself and others. If you could string a few words together, send it to a publisher and be published, everyone would be a published author and the achievement of your dream would feel flat. So I hold fast to my dreams with both hands, and my will, and my teeth if I have to ๐Ÿ™‚ and just don’t give up, even on the days/weeks/months/years when it feels like I’m never going to get there. Because if I let go, I surely won’t!

    1. Fantastic response, Susanna! How true, and I hadn’t considered that. If it was as easy as we first think it would be, there’d be no real sense of achievement. Thank you for that.

  2. I just keep trying. I’ve been in situations in the past where I had little control, but I did my best to influence what I could. I found myself in a similar situation this weekend. I try. If it doesn’t work, I may need to revise my plan a bit and try again. I love the story about your cousin. And, I’ll just imagine he was able to pick out a word or two after his first reading lesson. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks, Stacy! Revise and try again. Those words work in so many situations and applications. And thanks for the thought that Greg probably could pick out a word or two — that leaves me with a hopeful feeling! (I can’t ask him, as he died when we were 17.)

  3. Hi, Beth!
    This is such an inspirational post!! Lovely in so many ways!

    I’ll admit to not having many dreams or hopes. Used to; they seem to have disintegrated. But life is like that.
    ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Oh Beth, this was so beautifully said! Perseverance is one of my favorite words…and attitudes! And following our dreams is a lot of fun when we’re doing it with our fellow writers. Thanks for the encouraging words.

    1. Thank you, Julie! Glad to hear from another person who knows the power of perseverance! Sometimes it’s not easy, I haven’t always persevered as I wish I had, but oh, when I do the rewards are great.

  5. One way I hold onto dreams is by connecting with other writers, who share inspiration and encouragement that you do here. Thanks for this! Hearing from other writers gives me a reality check on my own journey, plus gives me more chances to celebrate when others share their successes ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I agree with the saying, “Nothing worth having comes easy…” and I always live in hope and believe in dreams….otherwise I wouldn’t be where I am today or doing what I am doing. Loved the poem at the end of your post.

    1. Thanks, Diane. I’m sure you, like I, could never have imagined the way things would happen in our lives, thanks to following our dreams.

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