Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hurricanes and Sorries: A Waiting Game

Ane here. I'm pleased to introduce you to Normandie Fischer, a friend and fellow writer. I met Normandie a few years ago and loved her heart for helping writers.

Hurricanes and Sorries: A Waiting Game, by Normandie Fischer

Our neck of the woods acts like a hurricane magnet. I think it’s the sticky-out part of Cape Lookout that does it, hooking that swirling wind to drag it toward land. Those of us in this area of North Carolina have to spend days preparing and then weeks—or months—recovering. Between hurricanes and lightning strikes, our beloved ketch, Sea Venture, has been stuck on land since July 2014, which means she’s un-sailed, mired in the soon-we-hope mode, waiting, waiting, while we long to get on the water and sail again.

Sea Venture in the water, the Sea of Cortez, Mexico

Sometimes our writing life feels like that, doesn’t it?

Our germ of a story has grown to full-length status, and we’ve sent it to friends, to critique partners, to contests. We’ve rewritten it, tweaked it, and now, surely, we’re ready to submit it to the judgment of the gatekeepers, the literary agents and the acquisitions editors.

We start with a few. Then, we try again. And again. And all this time, the silence seems to grow so loud we can barely write another word, a silence interspersed with “Sorry, but not for me” emails that trickle in, one rejection at a time. Maybe we have writer friends who tell us we’re wonderful, that we should just hang in there, it will happen. And maybe we sit in our writing cave and hear only the silence, read only the rejections.

Our words are mired in the un-sailed, soon-we-hope mode.

Add in the cries from the other camp, many of whom have achieved success: “Who cares about gatekeepers? We don’t need them any longer,” as the push comes to head out on our own and self-publish.

Dreaming of the day (

I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful for the years of waiting. Yes, I look at writers half my age who are selling and publishing, and I feel a pang or two. But I know a truth about my own work: it’s better for the wait. It’s honed, edited, crisper in some places, more lyrical in others.

If you’re in the waiting mode, have you asked yourself why you’re stuck? (As, I did, again and again.) Is it because your work needs to move to the next level? Or are you mired on land, unable to launch, because there’s something yet to be completed in you?

Solomon said that whatever our hands find to do, we’re to do with all our might (Eccl. 9:10). Couple that with the word from Ephesians 13:6: “…having done all, … stand.”

So, we write with all our might. We edit with all our might (and with the might of experts, perhaps). And then, having done our all (sometimes over years, as in my case), we stand. And we trust that if things aren’t working out the way we wanted, the waiting has a purpose—a different one for each of us, but a purpose that will improve both our writing and that thing in us that needs to learn patience.

My first manuscript won accolades (and an award), but no sales. Twenty-four years after I first wrote it, it’s out there, published—and it’s a better, stronger book because of the intervening years during which I wrote and had published four other books. (One of those four was a work for hire that actually helped hone my suspense-writing skills.) Maybe my time in the trenches is unique to me. In those silent, seemingly unproductive years, I acquired and left two agents. I took a job as acquisitions and developmental editor for a small publishing house. I sailed and traveled—but most of all, I wrote and rewrote and read and learned.

What about you? Are you in the waiting mode—or were you before your words finally became a book? I’d love to hear your stories.

Normandie studied sculpture in Italy before receiving her BA, summa cum laude with special honors in English. Known for her women’s fiction—Becalmed (2013), Sailing out of Darkness (2013), and Heavy Weather (2015)—she ventured into the realm of romantic suspense with the release of Two from Isaac’s House. In early 2016, a novella, From Fire into Fire, will continue the Isaac House saga. Normandie and her husband spent a number of years on board their 50-foot ketch, Sea Venture, sailing in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. They now live in coastal North Carolina, where she takes care of her aging mother.
Normandie's Website


Kimberly said...

You had me with Solomon. Love this beautiful reflection on the art of patience!

Normandie Fischer said...

Thanks, Kimberly. Those are words I handed to my children with every task they hated... which means, of course, that I've had to speak them to myself as well. And with writing, always.

Whidbey said...

Lovely, well-written piece on patience and hope; but mostly on knowing yourself well enough to know what is best for you - thank you!

Normandie Fischer said...

Thank you for commenting. It's a walk, isn't it, this figuring out what's best and trying to live it? And if only wisdom came to the young; it may to some, of course, but I missed out on that blessing and instead had to walk out the years and gaze back to see the good in the waiting.

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Wonderful post, Normandie. Thank you for the reminder there's value in those long years of waiting as we and our words on the page mature. Let patience have her perfect work.

Normandie Fischer said...

Yes, Pat, but don't you sometimes wish the perfect work would get here, call itself ready and able? That we could add a check mark (maybe even a gold star) on the Need to Learn Patience part of the chart? Because if it's finished in one area, it seems to follow us into another...