Writing on hope: the journey from aspiring to published author – Jen Gilroy

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By Jen Gilroy

Hope. Whenever I questioned my path as a writer, that one word served as both inspiration and guiding compass in my writing life, not only for how I write, but what and why.

On a long ago, grey English day, the fabulous author and teacher, Julie Cohen, led a writing workshop I attended at my local library. Julie described her journey to publication as ‘writing on hope.’ Back then, and as a new writer, that deceptively simple statement lodged in my mind and in my heart.

Like most authors, my journey from aspiring to published author has been littered with rejections and what at times seemed like insurmountable obstacles. As I served that part of my apprenticeship, I wrote in snatches of time — several hundred words during my lunch hour at work, more words in hotels on day job travel and while my daughter played sport and slept.

Hope was often in short supply, but even if it was only a faint flicker, and along with the support and encouragement of writing friends, that inner-core of belief kept me going.

Hope was also tested in my life beyond writing. I had a stressful day job, a busy family life and, despite many moments of joy, there were also personal challenges and tragedies that plunged me into the darkness of grief and despair. But when life was hard, it was my writing that gave me brief escape, as well as the hope that if I kept the faith, brighter days would come.

Life did indeed get better, and I also realised my writing dream and became a published author. However, I still hold fast to hope as I navigate this next phase of my journey and seek to build a sustainable writing career, one reader at a time.

Although I wasn’t consciously aware of it until recently, hope is a recurring theme in my fiction, too. My characters overcome life challenges to earn their happy ever after and for me, those endings are sweeter because of the hardships that not only test them but teach them what truly matters.

One of my favourite authors is L.M. Montgomery. Her ‘Emily’ trilogy has had a profound influence on my writer’s life and, like a talisman, the following words from Emily’s Quest are those I come back to again and again.

“I know that in everybody’s life must come days of depression and discouragement when all things in life seem to lose savour. The sunniest day has its clouds; but one must not forget the sun is there all the time.”

I was a reader long before I was an author, and the stories that spoke to me most were those that left me with a sense of hope in the healing power of love and nurturing bonds of family, friends and community. That’s also what I want readers to take away from my books.

What do you want from your writing life?

The answer will be different for each of us, but if we listen and learn, and work with hope and belief, our heart’s desires really can come true.

Jen Gilroy worked in higher education and international marketing before trading the 9-5 to write romance to bring readers’ hearts home. Her debut novel, The Cottage at Firefly Lake (a 2015 RWA Golden Heart finalist), was released by Hachette Book Group USA, Grand Central Publishing, Forever on 31 January 2017. After many years in England, Jen lives with her family in a small town in Ontario, Canada.



  1. Jennifer Wilck

    February 14, 2017 at 6:03 am

    “Writing on hope”–that’s perfect for our journey as writers! Good luck with your new release.

    • Jen Gilroy

      February 23, 2017 at 5:21 am

      Thanks so much, Jennifer. I appreciate you reading and commenting.

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