Sharp. Hope is sharp.


It’s the worst emotion for someone like me. It’s intricately bound up with expectations and desires, and I don’t handle disappointment well. Can I tell you something? I finished a novel two years ago. I’ve talked with a potential publisher twice. The editor at the publishing house is really interested, and yet every time I’ve gotten ready to send, I’ve stopped.

I thought for awhile that I had submission terrors. That I suffered from an internal certainty that once the piece was out there it would turn out to be shit when someone else judged it. But then I realized I’ve been sending other, less polished things out, short stories, nonfiction pieces, and some have been accepted and others rejected, and I’ve been fine with it. Content, bummed, whatever, nothing too strong. I remember that I have in the past sent out a whole novel and thrown two thirds out after the publisher received it. So it wasn’t fear of rejection holding me back.

It was, I have come to realize, the fear of this period in between submission and response. The response could be acceptance (whee!). The response could be rejection (boo!). The response could be “revise and resubmit” (OK cool). (In fact, I most expect this third thing.) But there’s a probable lag of six to eight weeks before I hear anything.









And living with the novel completed but in perpetual editing, so that I was still in control of the situation for two fucking years was better than waiting to hear back. That’s how much I hate hoping.

And here’s the truth. I will be disappointed if the novel is rejected, but not crushed. I’ll be content if I need to revise. But I’m liable to go into a manic tailspin if it’s accepted, because I will have spent so long on tenterhooks unable to fully distract myself.

And there’s billions of things I can do, and that I shall do in the meantime. I’m teaching three classes, with all of the attendant grading right now. I’m still volunteering heavily at the ballet, and now I’m hoping to do some grant writing for them. I’m working on this autism book with another Mom at my kids’ school. And oh yeah, I have a couple of kids, not to mention another novel in perpetual editing, a blog, and several short stories in progress. And a husband with the patience of Job.

Yet at the pit of my stomach all that time, I’ll have to carry hope, because it will not leave me. When I say I want to live hopeless, I don’t mean I want to live in a boring wasteland with no possibility for a future. I mean that I don’t want to endure this painful uncertainty where I cannot be either happy or sad with regards to something so important.

And hope’s twin is disappointment. No matter what happens, whether it is rejection, acceptance, or revision, it will not come to me in the way I have anticipated. It won’t matter what various million possibilities I have considered, I won’t have thought up exactly how the response will be worded. Which means that even if I receive exactly the outcome I desire, I will still be disappointed. Historically, I know this. It’s one of the reasons I hate Christmas. I don’t mean to, but I find fault with even perfect gifts sometimes, because I didn’t imagine them a certain way. I can be such an ungrateful bitch at the holidays, and it boils down to this hope problem. I try to, but cannot completely, turn off expectation and simply live in the moment.

I will be able to best predict the negative outcomes. I’ve received enough rejection letters in general, and I’ve spoken with the editor at this publisher enough times to know what she’s liable to say if I don’t meet her expectations. But I don’t know what acceptance will sound like. Or look like. It’s liable to come in e-mail. Sure to. .. but there I go. My mind is out of control with possibilities and predictions.

I’m a fucking novel in progress.

But I’m writing. And I’m getting out of the house. So you may not have to lock me up in the crazy bin. But you should probably send care packages to Scott and the kids. They have to live here, yah know?

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Sharp. Hope is sharp. — 10 Comments

  1. Can I write a really long response to this?
    I am a big believer in HOPE, I trust it and god knows it has gotten me through so many dark times of my life, but Jessie, I agree with you.
    I won’t write a novel because I am so sure I’m not good enough to do it. Others are better and my words are mediocre so instead of flirting with hope , I just ignore my dreams, my desires. The truth is that when i give into them, I get hurt too. Whenever, I’ve been honest with myself and said “yes, that is what I want” and it was given to me, it’s also hurt me, damaged me, make me think “what good is hoping?”

    the one thing you said about how even if you hope, it never comes to you the way you expected. My whole infertility journey was like that…I kept hope alive, I believed that I would eventually get pregnant, had to in order to keep my sanity, but when it finally happened…I was not happy, or relieved or overjoyed..I was scared and still hoping, still praying..”please let me have LIVE babies”, “Please don’t have me miscarry”, “please don’t them let them be born too soon” and things like my constant throwing up, bed rest at 24 weeks and a completely incompentant uterus…well holding onto hope was all I had.

    When you told me that you had submitted the book, I was overjoyed for you. I was thrilled that you let a tiny little ray of hope creep in. Maybe you should let us, as your friends, hold the hope for you and you can worry,or wonder, knowing that your hope is well taken care of over here.

    I have no doubt that this book will see shelves and NOOKS and KINDLES..I have no doubt that you will smile when it’s accepted (even if you need to revise) and until then, know that i understand the double edged sword that is HOPE.

    you’ve taught me to look at it in a totally new way and to realize that I don’t revel in it once it allows a dream to come true, I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop once I am holding it.

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  2. 2013 is lucky. I know it. No small amount of luck goes into getting published. You are a gifted writer and a hard worker, but I’m crossing my fingers and wishing you good luck, too.
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    • I’m piling my 2013 luck onto Andra’s. Good things for all this fine year. And just between us? Hope’s sharp edge is why I haven’t been able to knock on the door of the local library or book stores with Buck’s. Will the world end if they don’t want it, no. And if they do, it won’t go the way I imagine it. But if the book sits in an envelope in my car, it’s all still perfect in my imagination.
      Hop over and visit Cameron’s recent post The State of the Novels, 2013My Profile

  3. Hope IS sharp, for hanging on its coattails are disappointment and, eeek, expectations. No one has said it more clearly or eloquently than you. I can’t imagine your novel NOT being a blockbuster. I await with much anticipation. Thanks for sharing and making my day, even though I find myself, a bit twitchy, in this piece.

  4. Jessi. I am so proud of you! I just want to say that you dont need to depend on hope, and wishing because you have a true gift. Talent! You are an exceptional writer. I will be first in line to buy your book. Then, we will meet half way so that you can autograph it for me.
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  5. I don’t think any of us are really built to cope well with disappointment but some Jester Queen once told me that trying is what counts and that wise folk know that failing is just one step on the path to success. You’ve got there before and you can get there again. I look forward to reading it! 🙂
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  6. I know what you mean… I do. Really. I could tell you to put it out of your mind as much as you can and keep busy, but that’s easier said than done, and it’s already what you’re doing anyway… So, I’ll just say best of luck and I’m thinking of you!
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