That Four Letter Word

There are many rungs on the publishing ladder. Boy is it ever tough to lift yourself up to the next rung. Sometimes you climb them with ease only to fall back down again with bloodied knees and wounded pride.

You spend months or years ripping the story out of your brain. Then you fork out hundreds of dollars to give the book to an editor who rips it apart. This is the stage you begin to question your life choices about being a writer. Eleven run-throughs of the manuscript later, you start sending the story out to agents and editors. The rejection letters fill up your inbox. You hold on, because you have faith in this thing you created. Finally you get a nibble. They want to publish your book! Woo Hoo! Cool. Great. Let the waiting begin.

A year passes without a word. One day you get the heads up your book will be released in two months time. BTW – you have some editing to do! Several stressful nights and days filled with giddy anticipation pass. Finally, the day comes when your book is released to the public. Hooray! You wait for the readers to stampede the bookstore (brick and mortar or virtual), but they don’t come in droves. Instead, the thunderstorm of love turns out to be a slight drizzle.

Why climb the ladder at all? Do we do it out of stubborn pride? Are we driven by some unseen force to share our creative gifts? Or is it simply brain damage? I think it boils down to one little word. Though small in stature, this tiny word has a whole lot of power. That word is HOPE.


HOPE kindles the flames of possibility in our hearts. It is a siren’s call to every dreamer on the planet. Against all rational thought or impossible barriers, HOPE keeps us putting one foot in front of the other.

What is the source of this magic? YOU! Think about what you’ve accomplished. It doesn’t matter how much achievement you’ve had in your career so far. You are a source of inspiration for someone who hasn’t reached your rung on the publishing ladder yet. Someone is watching you (not in a creepy way) and admiring the determination you’ve shown in reaching your goals.

Next time you’re attending a writers conference, be mindful of your conversations with those who ask your advice. Are you being an encourager? Or are you unintentionally squashing someone else’s HOPE?

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