The Mystery of Hope
Imagine typing up the most perfect pages you can create, folding them into paper airplanes, and releasing them to the wind in the hopes that the right page will land in the hands of the right person (OPRAH) at the right time and then all your writer dreams will come true (cue heavenly choir).
Sounds like a ridiculous way to try and make a living, right?
Okay, so maybe that analogy is slightly overblown (pun intended). But, there is a point here. That's what writing feels like much of the time. Hopeful, but hopeless.
I spend countless hours working on projects. Weeks, months, years are devoted to a single book. And no one knows, especially not me, if the time will pay off in the end.
Writing is work without any promise of reward.
Everything about writing is a mystery. Everything. Maybe everyone reads it. Maybe no one. Perhaps it'll make some money. Chances are, it won't. The act of publishing something is probably the highlight of that book's life. That is the cold reality, and often it feels below zero.
I've got two novels out there - two needles in a haystack the size of earth. Each novel took years to write and get as close to perfect as I could without going crazy. Each one cost around $1,000 to publish. Recouping that money, let alone getting paid for time spent, is a long shot.
When you have a regular job, each hour and every effort counts toward something. At least, a paycheck. Hopefully, a sense of accomplishment, accolades from co-workers, and lots of warm and fuzzies for a job well done go along with the package, too.
I miss those days.
While I'm thrilled to be a full-time writer now and know how blessed I am to have that option, I can get a little down in the dumps over the who-knows-what-will-happen aspect of the writing life. (To read more about how I came to be a full-timer, check out my Going Coastal Blog)
The work = pay equation was simple, easy. The writing work = ??? equation is hard to handle.
Many days, I don't.
But, whenever I feel insecure about my instability, I find myself unable to do anything. I get tied up in hopelessness. So, I turn to this verse...
"Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don't know if profit will come from one activity or another - or maybe both." Ecclesiastes 11:6
This verse tells me to quit thinking about it. Just do the work.
Besides, this verse is hopeful. Mysteriously hopeful. Profit will come one way or another. It could say "or neither" but it says "maybe both." All of this work will add up to something, someday. I have to believe that.
And, if nothing else, the busy, brain-busting act of writing makes for excellent therapy. :)