I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, January 23, 2012

Two Years before the Mast Or What to do When Your Writing Gets Beached

Each writer goes through his or her time of shipwreck. Times where you cannot squeeze a word onto paper for any price.

Note that I am not speaking of writer’s block.

I am speaking of that time in your life when circumstance takes over and writing not only takes a back seat, but becomes a distant dream.

In Richard Henry Dana’s book called Two Years before the Mast, he journals the miserable years he served as a common sailor aboard the brig ship Pilgrim. In it he describes hunger, scurvy, storms, beauty and misery of all sorts.

This journey would only last two years, but what he saw would change his life forever.

 Like Dana, your time in a dismal situation will pass. When it does, a new normal will take its place.

Many people will tell you to be thankful for the new experiences you now have to enrich your stories. That may be true. I want to give you something else to consider:

Your shipwreck had purpose.

The Bible says:

Ecc 3:1  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

The time to write will return but remember:

Don’t allow fear to grip you over all the conferences or contest deadlines you missed, or the blog posts you should have written etc.

Don’t feel like your career has passed you by and all that time you spent building your platform is lost.

These times of trial are ordained by God. If we read down a little further we see why.

Ecc 3:10  I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

Webster explains exercised as: trained; disciplined; made skillful by use…

Dana didn’t just write a book destined to be a classic. His trials as a common sailor opened his eyes to injustice in a new way. Dana became a prominent anti-slavery activist and helped to found the FreeSoil Party.

To this day, Dana’s book is still considered valuable as a historical resource on 1830’s California.

We may never fully understand the purpose of these rare times of tribulations, but we can be certain of one thing

God is a redeemer of time. Step out in faith. Sit in your chair and just write. Allow God to restore. Allow what He has done in you to produce good fruit, like it was intended.

Joel 2:25  And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten…

What’s your story?


  1. Thank you, and well-done, in true Navy tradition. And if I remember correctly, a Capt. Topliff is mentioned in that book. Interesting that Dana found himself during those two years and went on to land-based accomplishments that did not involve him returning to toss to and fro on the (writing) sea.

  2. Ginger, I love when God gives me back the exact scripture I prayed for you-Joel 2:25

    There is a season for everything. This is such an important lesson for us to learn. And keep remembering that everything is in His timing. We just need to be ready. As you said, step out in faith. Sit in the chair and just write.
    Great post!

  3. Ginger,
    Thank you from sharing not only from your experience but from your heart -- and then weaving truth throughout it all.
    Your words are such an encouragement this morning. Sometimes the writing road winds in directions we never imagined -- away from the goal, not toward. But we have to keep walking, and trusting. Our times are in God's hands, not ours.

  4. Ginger, what an uplifting post. Thanks for sharing from your heart. I love your posts, because they speak unvarnished but graceful words of truth. Thanks for the encouragements here today.

  5. Such wisdom in your words, G. I appreciated this post very much.

    When I was in college, I tried to do it all--work full-time, care for my family, church ministries, writing. The final result was frustration and discouragement.

    God asked me to stop writing for 6 months. Not one word of fiction. I finished my degree, graduated with top honors, then picked my writing back up. That was a period of renewal for me. I was able to look at my manuscript with fresh eyes. I believe that was the first step in God opening the door to publication for me.

    Our family is going through a shipwreck time right now. I'm thankful for God's answered prayers and try to see beyond my discouragement for His purpose and plan for our lives.

  6. Ginger,

    Thanks for sharing. I love the definition of exercised. I'm claiming, "skilled, disciplined, made stronger by use". I'm headed in that direction! Great insight about a "new normal".


  7. You ladies are such an encouragement to me. Thank you once again for all the prayers during my "shipwreck" time.


  8. What an inspiring post, Ginger! You rock! :) And so does God...and his timing, too!

  9. Wow, I scrapbook and have felt so bad being out of it lately. I would say that can even apply to me. I have had no inspiration for layouts or journaling. My friend Christy taught me how important journaling is to our layouts and I just have not had it in me. Great words of wisdom Ginger. Thanks---

  10. Allow what He has done in you to produce good fruit, like it was intended.

    This is such a thoughtful post, Ginger. Thank you for sharing from your heart and life experiences. The verse from Joel has long been a mantra of mine. And I especially love the line that I pasted in above.

    Allow....what He has done....in you....to produce.... good fruit....like it was INTENDED.


  11. Great reminder, Ginger! I've needed it!!

  12. Thank you Patti and Vicky for those encouraging words. It is so uplifting when people respond to words from your heart.

    Teri, I thought of you so often while writing this.

    Thanks ladies!

  13. Ginger!

    I am late getting here to comment, but wow. Have you been spying on me? I have been allowing fear to grip me over all the conferences and contest deadlines I've missed, AND the blog posts I should've written. I have been wondering if all the work I did two years ago to follow my dream was for nothing. I am pretty good about recognizing a trial ordained by God for a purpose, but my inability to write has felt less like a trial and more like a failure.

    When I came back to Christ at the age of 24 (after 10 very ugly years away from Him) He promised to restore to me the years the locust had eaten. And He did. In so many ways.

    So that beautiful verse in Joel has always held a special place in my heart. Reading your words tonight, it occurs to me that when He promised to restore the locust-ravaged years, He wasn't just referring to the ten years I spent apart from Him. This is a promise about every minute of my life from here until I take my last breath that feels desolate and unfruitful.

    Thank you, Ginger. Thank you for reminding me that I am still called, even if I've felt like it's slipping away. I guess I need constant reminding that God has a plan and is totally in control.

  14. Heidi, you are an amazing woman. God gets glory from your life in so many ways. Simple obedience is the best way of all :) love you girl!