Monday, November 30, 2009

The Hope Chest

As a young woman, I saved my allowance, birthday, and Christmas money and eventually scraped enough together to purchase a hope chest. It didn't look like this picture, but you get the idea. Walnut wood, a sleek Danish modern design, and a cedar interior made it the latest and greatest in dream keepers. I call it a "dream keeper" because I stored all the things I wanted to use when Mr. Right swept me off my feet and carried me off to his castle.

In some cultures, the hope chest might be considered part of a woman's dowry. In the U.S., a young woman made beautiful needlework creations and gathered household goods in anticipation of her wedding day. With the advent of Bridal Showers and elaborate wedding receptions, the practice has almost died out in this country.

Our websites, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media serve as writers' hope chests. They record our wish lists, our desires for publication, and our preparation for the role of, "Author." Friends cheer us on as we struggle through writer's block, rejections, and painful critiques. They celebrate small successes, a contest win, the agent signing, and "the call." We store our memories in cyberspace, in file cabinets, and on our computers that become a scrapbook to look back on and thank God for how far He's brought us.

What are some things stored away in your writer's hope chest?

40 comments:

Jessica said...

I have contest results, agent requests, agent rejections... LOL Lots of stuff.
I love this analogy. What a great way to think of my darling internet! LOL

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I remember having a hope chest full of things in hopes of marrying and starting a new home. It was long and walnut with a black leather cushioned top. What memories popped up thinking back on it!

In my writing hope chest is the hope that I will be able to write every day and that my short stories will continue to be published.

Jody Hedlund said...

I've been waiting for this post, Susan! And it's just lovely! The best thing I'm storing in my chest is all of the friendships! And thank you for being one!

Shmologna said...

Good blog entry! My hope chest is full to bursting! In addition to getting published, I hope that I please God in my writing, that I don't waste the gifts He has given me. I also hope to do justice to the people of the mountains, to the history of my family. I am writing fiction but I want it to be fiction based in truth.

Jaime said...

My first beautifully designed cover! :)

Cindy said...

I like the idea of different forms of social media being hope chests for writers.

I've definitely stored a lot in my "hope chest". Words of encouragement, difficult choices involving writing, struggles and achievements. I feel so blessed to have an outlet like blogging to be able to share and learn on my journey as a writer.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Right now--the post I did a few weeks ago about my favorite book. I joked about it being the first time my name and my favorite author's were in the same paragraph. Someone suggested I print it and keep it as a reminder of what I hope will happen one day. I did! It was a great idea!

Kathryn Neff Perry said...

There are all kinds of things stored in my writers hope chest. Some day, I hope to be able to pull them out one by one and "dust" them off----thanks for this walk back memory lane-----

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

LOL! I love the "my darling internet" phrase.

I don't have any contest results yet, but maybe soon. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Donna -

I remember seeing hope chests fitting your description. The teen and bridal magazines featured many designs back then.

I'm trying to break into the short fiction story market. I've submitted to a couple of places, but so far, only have a rejection slip. Do you have any tips for me?

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jody -

Yes, this post was inspired by one of your blog entries. All my online buddies help keep the creative juices flowing.

I like what you've put in your hope chest. No wonder I keep getting a whiff of cedar. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Cindy -

I'm with you. Blogging is a great outlet.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

I hope one day you'll get to meet your favorite author. Maybe he/she will even ask for your autograph.

I've thought of keeping a scrapbook or journal of my ups and downs as a writer. Instead, I have papers all over the place. Maybe one day I'll organize everything.

For the most part, the treasured things are hidden in my heart.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathryn -

You're welcome. It's all part of enjoying the journey.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Shmologna -

I pray you'll be able to turn those visions into reality. All fiction has bits and pieces of us woven throughout. I'm looking forward to reading your work when it's published.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jaime -

Great item!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Deborah said...

I loved this post! I actually have my mom's hope chest...maybe I should gather up all of my files, notebooks, binders and scraps of paper and store them in that hope chest!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Beautiful post, Susan! I have a hope chest too and never thought of the writer's hope chest, though I have steno pads with stories written in short hand that I can no longer read stored in my hope chest downstairs.

Carla Gade said...

What a delightful post. I have a hope chest, it's a plastic chest - maybe I'll get a nice wooden one someday. Even so, this is full of my keepsakes and dreams. I do have a couple of decorative wooden boxes for smaller special items.
I never really thought of that big metal box that houses my computer that way before, but it is SO true!

I can remember the first few emails I received from my favorite authors - I was elated! Now, I'm making friends with authors online and so enjoying the special relationships. I have so many people in the world of writing that I communicate with in all kinds of ways online. Never would have been possible without my hopechest (computer).

My C drive is full of my stories, ideas, pieces of inspiration, articles on the craft of writing, scripture and quotes to encourage me. I have contest essays that I have written and so much more. I also collect images for story inspiration. I've even made a few "book covers" so I can "see" what my dream come true might look like. (I've heard I'm not the only one who does that.)

And of course it is not just my writing and blogging that is on my computer, so much more . . .

I also am keenly aware that my computer has become somewhat of a prayer alter. That sounds terrible, doesn't it!? Well, I am on some prayer loops and do some of my praying here. I pray at my PC often, it's just where I am sitting. I also take my hopes and dreams before the throne of God when I write and research.

I hope that my hope chest helps me lend hope to others.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Carla -

Yes, hope chests come in many forms these days. Who would have dreamed that a computer would serve that purpose?

Thanks so much for sharing your story. I enjoy learning more about my blogging buddies. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Eileen -

How cool that you actually have some of your writing stored in a traditional hope chest!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Deborah -

I think that's a grand idea, especially if it's sitting empty.

Ooo, you're giving me ideas. I love when blog posts and comments give me a burst of creativity. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Terri Tiffany said...

What a pretty concept! I love hope chests. I have packed away many of my firsts, publications, agent requests, nice comments from others, etc.
I really love all of you kind bloggers who are there to share it with!

quietspirit said...

Susan:
I have my paternal grandmother's hope chest. She died a day after my dad was born. It came to my houwe when we had to put Dad in a nursing home. Right now it holds pictures back to WWI.
My writer's hope chest, well I've never thought of one. I guess mine is in my head and in my heart. I try to write for God.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

I'm glad you're saving items from your writing journey. When I get discouraged, it helps to look back at the various milestones passed.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit -

You're blessed to have such family remembrances. I think keeping a record of our writing journey could be a further witness to God's faithfulness.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Great analogy, Susan! Now if I could just stop messing up my embroidery... :-)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rosslyn -

LOL! When I took up writing, such pursuits went out the window.

Blessings,
Susan :)

quietspirit said...

Susan:
Before I got serious about my writing, I did flower arranging. Mostly silk but some fresh flowers. I made some wreaths for family graves at Christmas.I had a seasonal wreath on our front door. The wreath holder is still there.:)

But, as you say, all that went by the wayside.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit -

Yes, writing takes a lot of time and effort. I put aside crocheting, needlepoint, and crafts.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jan Cline said...

My hope chest has a ticket to a good writer's conference. Never been to one. Some of the other things in there is to be accepted for a Chicken Soup book, and of course to finish and pitch my WIP!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jan -

Oh, I like your entries into the writer's hope chest! Maybe I'll stash one of those conference tickets into mine, preferably ACFW.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Lily Robinson said...

That's a great analogy. Yeah, we do tend to store away our dreams on our blogs. I have stored there my dream of having my book published. I've shared dreams of my future book-signings.

Thanks for the good wishes. I'm feeling better every hour.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Lily -

I'm glad you're feeling better.

Those are fine dreams to store on your blog. May they all come true.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jean Fischer said...

I love this analogy, Susan. My mother had a hope chest. Sadly, it was ruined when my parent's basement flooded. My hope chest wish is for a constant flow of freelance writing work.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jean -

Oh, that's too bad! I did a search on hope chests. They still sell them, but they're mostly called, "storage or blanket chests."

A steady flow of freelance work is a good thing to put in your writer's hope chest. I pray things will pick up for you.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Deborah said...

Susan, I had to laugh when I read that hope chests are now called blanket chests....guess what's in mine?
Oh and I'm glad I gave you a burst of creative energy....I'm wondering if we have the same idea in mind....mine will be in an upcoming post...once I get those blankets out of there!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Deborah -

Oh, that's sooo funny! I guess the furniture manufacturers are trying to broaden the appeal of their product. :)

Yep, I have an idea for a short story. Thanks.

Blessings,
Susan

Deborah said...

Hi Susan, My original idea was for a blog post...and I will still do that, but when you mentioned 'short story' well that just got me going....I've been writing off and on all day, in between chasing after seven kids, and I'm almost done....just working on the ending. How's yours coming? We'll have to exchange them sometime!
Thanks for spreading that burst of creative energy!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Deborah -

Good for you! I'm doing research for Book 3. Next week, I plan to work on editing Book 1. I may have to do a re-write, but I'm not certain yet.

Short stories and devotionals get squeezed in here and there. I'm not sure when the hope chest idea will get written.

Are you planning to submit the story?

Blessings,
Susan :)