Discouragement is a fast-working poison. For one, it doesn’t take much to get discouraged, especially if you’re unsure of your ambition in the first place. All it takes is a small situation—a day that didn’t turn out quite as planned—and the process begins. The foiled plans may instill a sense of failure or futility in your mind, a seed that can be pushed aside before your mental processes pour any more water onto it. It doesn’t stop there, though. For instance, later in the day, you get another one of your short stories in the mail, rejected. It was a story you particularly poured your heart as well as hours of time into and daydreamed about seeing accepted and published. Now, you just feel like a little girl aspiring to become a princess—as time goes on, you realize that things just aren’t that simple or peachy or viable. That second letdown draws out the same seed you started with, except you don’t have to think about re-planting it—you know where it goes. You use your conscious brainpower to water the seed, instead. There. It grows.
It becomes a vine that hurts and chokes. You try to tear it from your neck as it tightens its hold. Finally, in one fell swoop, you take up an axe and slice the thing in half. It uncurls from your neck and you gasp for breath.
It must be uprooted, no trace left. What if it grows there again? I don’t have to let it, you realize. Taking a new plant--sometimes hope, sometimes encouragement, sometimes humor--you place it in the hole where the discouragement broke ground. It’s ground that is good for growing in general, so you always run the risk that the vine will return and re-grow, but until then, you keep planting the good stuff and tending it assiduously.