“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” ~Helen Keller
It never ceases to amaze me how a single word can hold so much meaning, how a string of letters that are put together can be so inspirational. And what happens when you put those words together? What happens when you take a series of meaningful words and combine them? Is it really possible for words, for phrases, to change the way you view things? Can something as simple as a single word really be inspirational? Sometimes it seems hard to fathom that something so small could inspire something so great. But it can happen. It can happen, and it does happen … and our lives are better for it.
Take, for example, the quote I used at the beginning of this entry. There are five very important words in it: optimism, faith, achievement, hope, and confidence. Alone, each word is important. Each word has meaning on its own, and each word has the possibility of acting as a reminder, as an inspiration, as whatever you want or need it to act as. But what happens when you put those words together? It’s almost as though they take on a life of their own. Together, they have an even greater meaning. That meaning is different for every person — but each word in that quote is like a stepping stone to achieving your dream. We need optimism, we need faith, we need hope, and we need confidence — and once we’ve not only realized the importance of those things but have come to believe in them … that’s when we’ll have achievement, when we’ll be on our way to making our dreams come true. And it’s important to recognize that achievement is not just the ultimate goal — it’s the steps you take along the way. Writing a novel is an achievement. Editing that novel is an achievement. Sending out dozens of query letters is an achievement, even if you wish the response to them was different. The same is true with any dream, whether it’s writing, singing, creating artwork, playing a sport .. anything. Every single part of that dream, of YOUR dream, is an achievement, and you can’t ever let anyone make you believe otherwise. And sure, it’s easy to lose faith, to have your confidence waver. And that’s okay. It’s okay as long as you don’t let that stop you. When that faith fades, when that confidence falters, that’s when you have to find that hope within you. You find that hope, you find that optimism — you renew your sense of faith that dreams CAN come true and that the impossible IS possible — and you continue along the path to achievement.
Easier said than done at times … definitely much easier said than done. We all have our moments when we get discouraged. We all have our moments when we can’t understand why our dreams, our dreams that we want so desperately to come true, are still out of our reach. They seem so close we can almost feel them … yet they also feel so far away. It’s easy to let uncertainty intimidate us, and it’s easy to wonder how long we have to wait for our dreams to come true. Sometimes it seems like dreaming big and working hard isn’t enough, and it’s okay to allow yourself to feel like that for a moment. In fact, it’s even important, because you can then take those feelings of discouragement and channel them into a renewed sense of determination. That’s what is important — searching deep inside yourself and finding that hope, that faith, that optimism, and that confidence … even when you don’t think you can. Because even if you think you can’t, you can. Somewhere inside of you those qualities are there, and you have to do whatever it takes to find them, to BELIEVE in them, and to allow them to impact not only how you view life, but how you live it.
I’ve certainly had my moments along this book publishing journey when I felt like things were impossible. It’s difficult – VERY difficult – to put yourself out there, to take this work of heart that’s become your baby and put it out there for strangers to read, interpret, and comment on. It’s hard not to feel discouraged when you get a “no.” It can make you feel like you’re not good enough, like your passion isn’t good enough. I’ve been there. I’ve gotten “no” responses and I’ve wanted to just sit down and cry (okay, I have sat down and cried at times). I’ve had my fair share of moments where I feel like this is an impossible dream. I allow myself to feel that – I need to feel that. The emotion is real, and if I don’t allow myself to feel it, I won’t be able to move beyond it. Because I always find that after that moment of discouragement, something else comes to the surface — that hope and faith. My optimism returns, and I realize that every “no” I get along the way will just make that eventual “yes” all the more special. I focus on the positive – on the helpful suggestions that the agents have been kind enough to take the time to make. I take every suggestion into consideration with the knowledge that with the next round of query letters, I’ll have a manuscript that’s the best it can be. That’s really all any of us can ever be — the best we can be.
As for confidence? Well, that’s still a work in progress. It’s always been something that’s difficult for me, but I’m working on it. I was given some really amazing advice: “How can others believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself?” (Thanks, hk!!) That really made me stop and think. I do believe in these books — they’re such an important part of me, and I put my heart and soul into them. No one’s going to believe in them if I don’t … and I do, I really do. I believe in them more than anything I’ve ever done in my life. That’s not enough, though. I also have to believe in myself. Like I said, that’s definitely a work in progress … but I’m working on it, and I’ll continue to work on it. I have a renewed sense of optimism today. Following the advice of the agent I mentioned in the last entry, I cut the book in half again (meaning that the original manuscript is now four books and I have the equivalent of at least eight novels written — but hey, that’s a good thing, right?) and spent the last week working on that and on reworking the synopsis to reflect the shorter (well, if you can call 130,000 words short — but trust me, it’s short in comparison to the original that was four times that length!) novel. I was excited to begin sending out the next round of query letters, using the amazing “Guide to Literary Agents” book that I bought. Just looking at the long list of agents I still have to send to is an incredible feeling. So, with a revised synospsis and the novel split in half, I set about working on new query letters. I sent to five literary agents between yesterday and today. I figure I’ll see what their reaction is to this revised version and then go from there. Their responses will determine my next course of action. Do I wish I knew what the future held? Sure. Do I wish I knew how long I’ll have to wait until I finally get the “yes” I’m praying for? Of course. But in the meantime, I’ll continue to work as hard as I possibly can. I’ll hold on to my hope, my faith, and my optimism. We need that hope. We need that faith. We need that optimism and that belief … it’ll make it all the more special when our dreams come true. It’ll make it all the more special when that faith really DOES lead to the achievement we’ve been hoping for all along…