Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Value of Hope...

I can remember the moment as if it were yesterday…

It was a brisk spring morning. The air seemed to crackle with the chill but the birds were singing…spring was on the way. And I was ‘stalking’ the mail carrier. Yelp, had a string of rejections from my favorite publisher and very much feared I would soon receive another.

I was tired of waiting and exhausted by the lack of encouragement missing in form rejections. I expected practice to make perfect. That’s what I’d been taught. What I passed on. What I still believed. I had been studying and practicing the craft of writing for three years…surely I had made progress. So I tried to focus on the joyous songs of the birds as I approached the highway.

And the long awaited envelope was in the mailbox. Finally! I dreaded what I might find inside, but unable to wait, I stood at the end of the driveway and ripped the envelope open. Another R…

I couldn’t allow my disappointment to show, the neighbors might see. Even at a distance they could see if I stomped my foot or hear if I yelled in frustration. But they couldn’t see the tears that filled my eyes as I forced my feet back along the drive. Nor could they hear the silent pray I sent winging heaven ward. “I’ve tried. Really tried. Dear God, please send me a sign to show I’m not wasting my time in vain.”

I stumbled on a gravel and opened my eyes to watch were I was going…and then I saw it. In the sunlight it sparkled bright as an icicle. Yet even with the crisp mornings, I knew it wasn’t ice. But it was silver and sparkling like a gem. How I missed the pen when I started down the drive, I’ll never know. I would guess it was because I was staring at the mailbox, my goal, and not paying attention to the steps I needed to take to get there.

Isn’t that true with many of the things we do in life? We forget the process…the baby steps.  I picked up that silver pen, read the publisher’s name printed on the side, and started trembling. My dream publisher…and not one in my life could have dropped that pen. It was a sign. It had to be. At least two vehicles had driven up and down that drive and not crushed the pen. How could I cave in after a few short years of trying to sell to this publisher?

I never expect to be one of the ‘big girls’ but I want to write stories.  I still have that shinny pen. I pulled it out today. It’s a new year, with renewed hopes and who knows; perhaps drafting my outline in ink from that pen will bring me luck.  Or perhaps the real lesson is that we should never give up hope.

Happy January to you all and here’s wishing you a very successful year!



  1. Carol, I love the story of your shiny pen. Like you, I don't think I'll make it to the "big girl" league, but, also like you, I'll continue to write for the love of it. I can't think of a better reason.

  2. What a great story! And what is the "Big Girl" League anyway? It's what we make of it. There is no "made it" moment. It's a ladder. We reach another rung and then start working to make the next leap. Just picking up a pen or sitting down at the computer to writes puts you on the ladder. Finishing a manuscript gets you to the next. Getting published by any publisher at all is a big leap up the ladder, but even if you make it there, many steps loom above... Bestseller lists, big awards, big contracts, etc. I'm glad to be where I am, but I hope I'll never stop trying for that next rung on the ladder.

  3. One of my favorite quotes comes from Michael Jordan: "I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying." We only fail when we give up on ourselves. I'm glad you still have the pen!

  4. Hi Carol--
    Oh, I'm so glad you didn't give up! Isn't it great that you saw a sign, just when you needed it?

  5. Carol, this is such a lovely story and so true. I still have the pen I won when my essay was chosen as the best in Letters to the Editor. I don't remember what I wrote but I hold that pen close. Commitment is the key and you only fail if you give up. Very nice post.