Most New Year’s resolutions have been broken by now. The first snowdrop is in bloom in the garden; the robins have yet to return. This in-between season calls for hope and trust along with any lingering intentions. Writers not yet assured of an audience need ways to nurture hope in order to keep writing. I suspect that’s equally true in other endeavors, from selling your art on Etsy to working for social change. Purposeful persistence is essential but doesn’t guarantee results. How do you balance hope with realism?
My view of hope is shifting over time. This year’s thoughts: Optimism and expectations are about the future. So is hope for a narrowly defined outcome. But hope in the broader sense is about the present, an attitude in this moment. Right now I hope and trust that my work has value, even if it’s too soon to see exactly how.
Hope demands a willingness to live with uncertainty. Barring life crises or chemical imbalances in the brain, I suspect a major impetus to giving up is the discomfort of not knowing. Why should I keep writing if you can’t promise the desired result? It takes courage to accept that we don’t know what will happen and to keep going all the same. The alternative is to quit for the comfort of certainty, in the assurance that nothing will happen at all.
3/5/2018 09:38:18 am
Particularly beautiful and thoughtful today, Sarah. Thank you.
3/9/2018 09:13:06 am
Perhaps mindfulness is a better path. Just living in the moment. "Now at this moment I am writing. I love writing." "Now at this moment I am reviewing and revising. I am thankful to have the opportunity." "Now at this moment I am looking for a publisher." And then write something mindful about that stage.
Wise indeed. Yes, the value and enjoyment of the present moment is independent of what may happen tomorrow. For me, the sense of adventure and curiosity, and perhaps most of all the joy of learning at every stage of the process, are much of what keep me living in the moment.
3/10/2018 08:28:46 am
Sometimes I understand mindfulness, and sometimes I don't. I think your middle paragraph sums it up well.
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I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.