The wonderful thing about writing is its hope factor. At first, this seems to fly in the face of all those rejections writers face. But then a success comes along and forges that kernel of hope so absolute it feels as indestructible as the One Ring of Power! (Well, I guess hope could be destroyed if you journeyed through Mordor and plunged it into the fiery depths of Mount Doom, but the idea is, this is the kind of hope that’s really hard to destroy.) Once you’ve forged that kernel of hope, there’s no telling where it will lead you.
I remember the giddy joy I felt when I sold my first story to The Friend. It was a little Valentine’s Day story about a girl bringing a valentine home to her mother. When my SASE came back with a big, red CONTRACT ENCLOSED stamped on it, I couldn’t believe it.
There it was!
They wanted my story! If they wanted this story, maybe they would want another story. (They did!) If they wanted this story, maybe someone else would buy a different story. (They did!) That day, my kernel of hope was forged. All these years later, it is still as hard and shiny as it was that day.
When sales slump and I’m wandering through one of those barren wastelands of disappointment, that little kernel keeps me going. At this point, many might give up. Many do give up. Talk to me about quitting piano lessons, finishing my sewing certificate, or learning to swim, and that’s me too. I walked away and moved on.
But writing is different.
Writing is a stepping into a blank page filled with infinite possibilities with that kernel of hope tucked in my pocket.
I never know when my hope will be rewarded.
I just know that it will.
For example, I wrote a wonderful biography some years ago. (I think it’s wonderful anyway--lol!) I sent it out on my own and later through two agents. It was rejected for a variety of reasons. With each rejection, it seemed to be sinking lower and lower into the murky depths of the publishing waters.
Then, just a few days ago, hope popped its silly head up once again. An editor had been going through a former editor’s pile of manuscripts and they came across this biography.
They liked it.
They really liked it and they want to talk.
I don’t know if this will result in a sale or not. I may not revise it to their satisfaction. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)
But there’s that hope.
The trick is to keep it in my pocket.
There’s no telling where it will lead.
Lori Mortensen is an award-winning children’s book author of more than three dozen fiction and nonfiction books. A writing instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature for eight years, Lori is a frequent speaker at schools and SCBWI conferences and is represented by Eden Street Literary in New York. Recent picture book titles include Cowpoke Clyde & Dirty Dawg (Clarion), named one of Amazon's Best Picture Books of the Year, Cindy Moo (HarperCollins, 2012), Come See the Earth Turn – The Story of Léon Foucault (Random House, 2010), and In the Trees, Honey Bees! (Dawn, 2009). Learn more about Lori and her books at www.lorimortensen.com.
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