The Agony of Waiting

I think every writer struggles with patience in some form. It takes months to get that burning idea onto paper. It takes more months to edit and polish the manuscript. More months, possibly years, pass as the author queries agents and eventually editors. Even after the book is accepted by a publisher, the rounds of editing and printing of the book take another year or more. To add to this frustration is the question of well-meaning friends and family who ask when the book you are still writing is going to be published.

I’ve been struggling with gaining the necessary patience. Since graduating college, I’ve felt so ready to be a published author. I’m finishing manuscripts. I’ve developed a writing schedule. I started this blog. Frustration built inside my chest until I wanted to scream at the pressure.

Perhaps I’m struggling with patience, but I have realized something very important along the way.

Sometimes the waiting makes us ready to hear the answer.

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If I were to be published right now, it might feel good to me, but God knows I wouldn’t be ready for it. I wouldn’t appreciate it the way I would after a long time of waiting. I might even be filled with pride believing that I accomplished it all by myself.

The waiting keeps me humble. It makes me rely on God. I have to trust that publication will come in God’s time, not mine.

I’m also learning the kind of author I want to be someday. When I’m a published author someday, I want to remember the thrill of opening my email inbox and realizing my favorite author personally emailed me back. I don’t want to forget the giddiness of commenting back and forth with an author on her blog. I need the feeling of being a person not just a faceless fan ingrained in my memory so I can treat my readers that way.

I don’t like the waiting, If God’s answer is no, then I won’t like that either. But if that time comes, then this time of waiting will have made me ready for that answer. If His answer is yes, then I’ll be ready for that too.

What about you? What are you waiting for? How is your waiting making you ready to hear the answer?

The U.S. Navy & Corsairs

So why am I writing a post on history when this is a writing-centered blog?

I happen to love history. History is, after all, God’s Story. It is the biggest, most elaborate, craziest Story that has ever been written.

Take, for example, the founding of the U.S. Navy. Did you know our Navy was founded because of…pirates?

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In the Revolutionary War, George Washington wanted the Continentals to found a navy to combat Britain’s navy. With the exception of John Paul Jones and a few others, this initial navy was a dismal failure.

After a few years once the U.S. Constitution was written and George Washington became the first president, the United States’ survival was still uncertain. Without the protection of the British navy, the ships and shorelines of the new country were vulnerable.

Cue the Barbary Corsairs.

The Barbary Corsairs were a group of pirates that operated out of the North African states of Tripoli, Algiers, and Morocco. They preyed on European shipping, raiding their ships and taking their crews captive to sell as slaves in Africa. The big powers, like France and Great Britain, paid massive amounts of money to these Barbary states to buy supposedly safe passage for their ships. When the United States had been a colony of Great Britain, their shipping had been protected by this tribute. As a separate country, the ships of the United States were now fair game for the corsairs.

So in 1794 President George Washington brought up the idea of starting a navy for the second time. Chaos ensued.

Finally, someone in Congress got the idea of a compromise. Congress approved the building of six ships as long as a treaty with the Barbary corsairs was also pursued. If a treaty was signed, then the work on the ships would stop. Late in 1794, a treaty with the corsairs was worked out where the United States would pay the corsairs a lot of money as tribute. The amount of tribute was so high it could have built sixty ships.

This treaty kind of worked for a while. The United States struggled to pay the tribute and even gave the corsairs a brand new ship as part of the payment (yes, let’s give the pirates a nice ship so they can attack us more). Work on the six ships the Congress had approved did eventually restart and they were finished in 1797 . The corsairs continued to raid U.S. merchant ships because they knew the U.S. couldn’t do anything about it.

By 1801 Mr. Anti-Navy himself, Thomas Jefferson, was President. Public outcry over the corsairs grew so bad that he declared the U.S. would no longer pay tribute. Tripoli promptly declared war, making them the first foreign power to declare war on the United States. Thomas Jefferson sent the U.S. Navy into its first, official war. While the Barbary War didn’t end the tribute, it did reduce it and give the sailors in the Navy valuable experience.

After the War of 1812 ended in 1814, James Madison decided to end the tribute to the Barbary corsairs once and for all. This time, the Navy had the confidence of surviving a war against Great Britain, the foremost naval power of the world at the time. It could handle a few pirates. By the time the U.S. Navy finished the second (brief) Barbary War, the Barbary States were paying the United States for damages. A few years later, Great Britain and France realized that if the upstart Navy of the United States could handle the Barbary corsairs, then their navies could too. They both attacked the Barbary States, ended their tribute, and basically ended the reign of the Barbary pirates for good.

From then on, the U.S. Navy has been a permanent part of the Federal Government. All because of a bunch of pirates. Crazy, huh?

What do you think? Would you have written a fictional world where a navy was founded because of pirates?

Go Teen Writers 100/100 Challenge

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Recently, I discovered a wonderful website called Go Teen Writers run by authors Jill Williamson and Stephanie Morrill. The blog is full of writing advice. They also have a book on writing also titled Go Teen Writers.  It is the kind of website I wish I’d had as a teenage writer. I sometimes felt so lost at times with no one giving advice for young writers.

One of the things that Go Teen Writers does is host word count challenges to spur young writers into writing daily. Right now, they are hosting a 100/100 challenge. This is a challenge to write 100 words a day for 100 days. This is the last day to sign up.

I wish I’d had someone like Go Teen Writers to push me along at that age. I didn’t start a daily word goal until my final year in college when a college professor gave us an assignment to write 200 words a day for a week. From there, I worked my way up to the 1000 words a day that I write now.

If I’d done something like the 100/100 challenge years ago, would I have written more back then? Would I perhaps have finished my first manuscript long before this year? I’m not sure.

I encourage all of you to at least try a daily word count for a week or two to see if it is something you can sustain. You might surprise yourself! I certainly did the first time I tried it!

Do you have a daily word count? Why or why not?

If I Had One Year to Live

I volunteered to join Nadine Brandes‘ blog hop for her new book A Time to Diewhich releases on September 23. In this dystopian novel, the main character is faced with the question of what she will do with her last year to live.

In this blog hog, I’ve been challenged to answer the question for myself. What would I do if I knew I had one year left to live?

A week ago, I would have given a very different answer. I had been planning to write something about my bucket list and the things I would like to accomplish. I’ll admit, it was shallow. An exercise in the hypothetical.

That all changed this past Thursday when a young man from my church was killed in a motorcycle accident. I didn’t know him personally. In fact, I don’t think I had ever talked to him even though he had attended my church for a few years. But I have friends who knew him well. It shocked my entire church to realize that a young man had been taken so quickly.

On Sunday, my minister preached from Psalm 90 about numbering our days. This doesn’t mean we count our days in the way we say we are so many years old. It means we realize how short our lives are. We count up our fleeting time and realize that we need to use that time to God’s glory. All of our time, whether we have a year or seventy years left to live, should be focused on serving God and His people.

While listening to this sermon, my answer to this blog question changed. If I had one year to live I would…

Change nothing.

At least, that is what I should be able to say. I should already be living with the awareness that life is short. Each day should be lived with no regrets so that it wouldn’t matter if God took me tomorrow or in seventy years. My heart and soul should be poured into every second.

Right now, I can’t say this is true for me all the time. I waste time on frivolous activities. I walk away when I should be helping others. I draw back and hide when I should be touching others’ hearts. But I am learning. Perhaps by the time it is my time to die, I will have begun to live this way.

Now it is your turn. What would you do if you had one year to live?

 

How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?
Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.
But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.
This is the first book in the Out of Time Series. Releases September 23rd from Enclave Publishing.

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Learn more about Nadine Brandes at her website, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book Two Blues

Maybe more experienced writers have less trouble with this. Perhaps practice makes it easier. I’m not sure. But in my experience so far, book two in the series I’m working on has been much harder to write than book one. While I became stuck a couple of times in book one, the scenes pushed to be written. When I arrived at the climax, I could barely concentrate that whole week with the urge to write nonstop.

Book two has been a completely different writing experience altogether. From the first word, I have had to work to get the words to come. My word count has slowed to a crawl because I spend twice as much time laboring over the words than I did on book one. I am currently at the climax and all I can do is stare at the page unable to force a word to come out.

Part of the trouble is that book two is more intense than book one. In book one, I introduced the characters and began their character and physical journeys. They were pushed, but not with the amount of difficulties I throw at them in book two. At times, the scenes became so intense I had to stop writing because I was beginning to get sick to my stomach or cry along with the characters. I had to walk away for a while to catch my breath.

I don’t have a lot of experience writing sequels. I wrote several sequels years ago, back before I knew much about writing and they were never longer than about 30k words. This current sequel is the first full-length sequel I’ve ever tackled.

Do more experienced writers struggle with writing book two? Have any of you experienced the same feeling with book two?