A Fool’s Hope

So, yesterday’s blog was a little angry, huh? Unsurprising to me, it’s also become my most read blog. Almost 20% of my Facebook friends read it, if the statistics page is to be believed. In a lot of ways, it makes me feel better that I allowed myself to lower the guards and just let myself be frustrated on text. I think it might surprise many of you to know that most days, I actively try to fight for hope.

I’ve written about my depression and sleep issues before, but this week it began to take on a new facet. Just last week I explained about depression taking fiction writing from me. My sleep aid requires two weeks between finishing doses before re-starting. Since the last time that break rolled around, I got so little sleep that I got very sick, I quit ignoring that little warning. I know, I know: never ignore medical warnings, go consult a doctor…but you saw my last post.

That break is also the last time I was able to write fiction. Do I have to choose between sleep and my dream? Is the chemical compound that allows me to remain healthy and restorative a direct destruction of my creativity? Is that also not worth it? I think this may have been the metaphorical frustrating straw that broke the camel’s back yesterday.

But, friends, let me tell you: I didn’t take my sleep aid last night. The thoughts didn’t plague my mind as I laid down in bed. I actually fell asleep in a semi-normal time. I woke up about two hours earlier than I do with my sleep aid—which is annoying, but also probably a more mature and adult time to wake up.

Purging that emotion yesterday was beautiful, in that regard. Coupled with my very intense Tuesday night spin class, and I passed right out. I wish I could take that spin class every day. It’s the one place I’m seeing tangible progress in the gym, which is one more straw in the stack.

I’ve had some serious self-image issues for years. I’ve never really been able to break through with them and see the results I want in the gym. But I’m not blind to how far I’ve come in the last five years. I know how difficult forty pounds is to lose. I know that, in comparison to the norm, I’m quite healthy. But I’m not achieving what I’ve set out for myself. It’s another way I’m letting myself down.

I spend hours researching diets and proper exercise forms and new routines and recipes when I need a day or two away from the job hunt. I’ve even developed a minor affinity for burpees. I’ve done two-a-days. Nothing ever really seems to work. I’ve begun researching how mental strength plays into fitness goals, and have come to the conclusion I’m pretty mentally weak. But I’m also pretty damn stubborn.

Really, I just want some world-class trainer and nutritionist to take pity on me and film some insane body transformation documentary where they cook and motivate me to train for six months. I think that’s why Crossfit is slowly becoming more appealing: I want the community and accountability and it’s the closest thing to that I’ve seen. It’s probably why I still see gains in the spin class.

Believe it or not, I try to be very realistic in my fitness goals and timing. Then again, I try to be very realistic—with a tinge of idealism—with all of my goals and dreams and desires. It’s the balance that had me pay off my school loans before going back to Europe on a vacation. It’s why I set aside money for six months’ worth of bills before buying concert tickets last year. I don’t want to give up life, but I also know that I can’t give up responsibility.

Which, honestly, is where my dream of becoming an author hits such a colossal snag. There’s no money in publishing, unless you’re astonishingly lucky. And at the end of the day, it is luck. But, if you’re writing, you’re not in it for the money. You’re in it for the love of the craft. It’s enough, and has always been enough. It’s frustrating that my dream—my chosen art—isn’t financially sensible and solvent career in the modern world. But that won’t stop me from pursuing it.

But it does create a world where my dream will almost always certainly be on the backburner. Out of every 100 novels written, 2 get represented by agents. Out of every 100 novels represented by agents, 2 get book deals. Out of every 100 books that get book deals, 2 generate enough income for their author to not have to work a second job. There’s also a whole breakdown of how advances against royalties work.

It’s not glamorous to be an author. Don’t believe me? The Pulitzers are the only major award in the entire world not aired during primetime on television. For every Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, there are literally thousands of books not covering their author’s advances. If that doesn’t happen, you rarely get a second chance. It’s cutthroat.

So how do I balance those odds? How do I know I have the talent to make it? How do I know to choose the right agents to query in hopes that they want to take me on as a client to start going to publishers? How do I find a job that covers the financial needs of myself, hopefully my future family, and allows me to pursue this pipedream called publishing?

How do I pursue my love of travel? How can I afford a dog? How can I maintain healthy friendships? How can I be a blessing to people I love and people I’ve never met?

I’m tired of being mentally exhausted from the frustration of agency. I would be excited to be attacking these questions head on with verve and swagger. I would welcome that exhaustion. The Sabbath is a day of rest, and I hope for a life bursting with six days of true life—not corporate slavery—where I’m required to take that day of rest. That’s how I spend most of my days looking at job boards. That’s how I spend most of my days daydreaming of places and people to visit. That’s how I spend most of my days thinking of how I would like to bless those around me.

But, as Gandalf says, “There never was much hope. Just a fool’s hope.” I may not be lazy, but if Gandalf, Aragorn, Elrond, Galadriel, and so many others are fools for hoping, label me one too.

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