The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right.
— Harvey Milk, Speech for California Gay Freedom Day.
Today, a friend of mine shared a video of Sir Ian McKellen reciting Harvey Milk’s Hope speech. It is a powerful speech presented by a stellar actor, and it’s definitely worth a watch, even if you disagree with the politics of it. It is a dynamic performance.
Hope is one of the most continually talked about topics in the history of humankind. I think back to Emily Dickinson’s poem “Hope is the thing with feathers” — quite possibly one of my favorite puns! — and Seneca talking about mitigating the worst of your fears with hope.
Hope is a thread that runs through the heart of humanity. And part of the storyteller’s art — even if you’re a storyteller that deals with only the truth of the world around us, and not with fiction — is keeping that tradition of hope alive.
Write about a time that hope has saved you.
If you’re a fiction writer: How hopeful is your main character? How can you use another character — a friend, a mentor, a villain — to either increase or destroy their hope. How do they use their hope to overcome the problems in front of them? Or — if you are writing a tragic story — how does hope fail them?
Zach J. Payne is, to borrow the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, “a polymath, a pain in the ass, a massive Payne”. He is a thespian, poet, and writer for young adults. He is the #2 Ninja Writer.