Last week I picked up Ariel Gore’s new firecracker of a book and breezed through it in one night. She herself is chock-full of good advice for the budding creative, but the one line in the book that has stuck with me—bangs like a gong in my head at least every hour—is a quote by novelist Rita Mae Brown.
“Never hope more than you work.”
And Ariel should know all about it, too. After all, she’s the successful author who got her start cobbling together the legendary Hip Mama magazine as a welfare mom. The arc of her career reminds us all to stop making excuses about why we’re not following our dreams and just roll up our sleeves and dive in.
For most of my life, I thought that my optimism could be nothing but a good thing, that it could only take me over the rainbow. A dear friend once gave me a handmade card, crammed to the edges with her marvelously whimsical drawings, that said:
“That which you think and dream, you create!”
I believed it then, and I believe it now. But I also know that while positivity will surely fuel a life’s dream, good old-fashioned elbow grease is always needed in equal measure.
This has really hit home with me in the last few days. By some blessing—or is it a curse?—my mind seems to have opened to a steady stream of words. I wake up in the morning and they burble across my mind, as if a faucet was leaking and might burst. It actually gives me a headache. At first I wondered: Was this a sign of boredom? Should I just find a day job again? Did I need sleep aids?
No way. This is what I have been waiting for! Maybe it will last another hour and maybe another year—I don’t know. But meanwhile, it feels like Godsend.
The trick, though, is that no amount of hope is going to rescue those words from my burning brain and get them safely onto the page. Only work will accomplish that.
Gotta get crackin’.