Thursday, October 1, 2009

Quest for...What?

My first direct view of Titanic lasted less than two minutes, but the stark sight of her immense black hull towering above the ocean floor will remain forever ingrained in my memory. My life long dream was to find this great ship, and during the past thirteen years the quest for her had dominated my life. Now, finally, the quest was over.

Robert Ballard penned his thoughts after discovering the RMS Titanic nearly two miles deep in the North Atlantic. His unwavering desire to accomplish his dream drove him to scan, search, and scour the route the ill-fated ocean liner had followed. He spent countless hours at the site of her demise and swam into the depths of the frigid waters more times than imagined.

He had a quest and would not stop until his quest was complete.

Merriam Webster’s 10th Collegiate Dictionary 10th edition, a volume after my own heart, describes a quest as 2b: a chivalrous enterprise in medieval romance usually involving an adventurous journey.

Have you striven after something thirteen years in the making?

Is there anything that stirs your passion until it becomes a very part of your being?

Does this sound like your writing journey?

Without a quest, our writing journey is reduced to a Milquetoast bland scribble on pages covered with a waste of ink. It makes us want to shop for office supplies rather than using them. We choose Solitaire over HEA every time.

A quest fuels our fire. It refuses to let us sit in front of the television, answer emails, read the tabloids. No longer are we floating down a river of indecision grabbing onto any debris of distraction that bumps into us. Quests make us settle down in our writing chairs, makes us press on.

A quest isn’t chosen; it is foisted upon us.

Did Robin Hood wake up one day and think, “hmm, wonder what Marian is up to?” No! The evil sheriff threatened Maid Marian’s life and Robin wouldn’t stand for it.

Did Jack Colton think Joan Wilder just another cute babe on the road to Cartagena? Nope. He wanted something she had. He wanted it badly. But along the way, he discovered he wanted her heart more than the gem. He fought for her, protected her, took her to safety. He risked it all to save the woman he loved.
Forrest Gump may have viewed life as a box of chocolates, going where ever fate and God led him, but watch out anyone who dared hurt his Jenny. His quest in life dictated he love Jenny. And he did all in his power to keep her foremost in his heart.

Do you have a quest that beats that strongly in your heart? Is writing so much a part of you that the thought of not writing down wayward thoughts and snippets of brilliance gives you the chills.

Can you set down your pen (or keyboard) and walk away from following the desire of your heart??

If you can, then do it.

The writing journey is filled with the deepest sink holes and blackest moments. It drives you to talk to your self and entertain figments of your imagination. It drives your family nuts.

Don’t walk away – RUN!! Save yourself. If the quest is not in your heart, your heart will not be in your quest.

But…the writing journey is filled with joy, too. Fellow writers applaud your successes and offer to help you over bumps in your road. Your characters encourage you with the greatest pride when you find your groove and create a tale taking them on an amazing journey worthy of Hallmark. You smile as you type The End.

To paraphrase John 15:16, You didn’t choose to write; writing chose you.

No, the quest isn’t for everyone, nor should it be. Robert Ballard strove for thirteen years to discover the resting place of the Titanic. THIRTEEN YEARS.

How many years are you willing to devote to your dream?

I’ll let you in on a secret…I’m past that thirteen year mark. I’m on my 7th computer, 4th printer and countless reams of paper. I’ve burned dinners, neglected housework, forgotten to walk the dog. I’ve written stories that make me laugh and cry.

I’ve forged lifelong friendships.

My family still loves me, even though they don’t always understand. By hey, this isn’t their quest.

The road to publication is not easy, but wow, what a ride!

So... have you heard the Seekers are planning a little Book In A Week challenge next week? How about putting your quest where your keyboard is. I challenge you to participate.

To push yourself.

To make your brain cells hurt.

Rise to the challenge and see what kind of grit you’re made of.

Prayers are with us all the way : )

Blessing to everyone!!



Jessica said...

Great post Audra! What a long, hard journey it can be. Even if someone sells within a few years, the emotional cost still seems pretty high. Thanks for sharing all this info. Have fun with BIAW!

Walt M said...

Wonderful post!

And that's all I have to say about that. :-)

Jenny said...

Fabulous post. And now I am off to climb a mountain, cure the common cold and ... oh...wait... it's 4:00 am and I am in my nightgown and I am in horrible shape and I suck at chemistry...So instead I will just continue to gear up for the BIAW challenge. Thanks for the rah rah start to the morning!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Coffee's here! And bagels, fresh from Bruegger's, try an Asiago/Parmesan, they're amazing.

But I still miss their Italian bagel, with cheeses, spices, grains of garlic... Oh mylanta, I digress. Again!!!

Audra, what a beautiful post, and so true. When you said, "but it isn't their quest," that's so true. Others don't have to understand it, as long as they don't get in the way. Put up stop signs. Diminish the quest. I mean what if Edison had given up after 4900 tries at a vacuum sealed light bulb?

We'd be typing by candlelight or button lights. Lanterns.

And I love what you said about giving up. This isn't for the faint of heart. Egads.

Love it. And you!

Ruthy (grabbing coffee with sweet cream. Yum.)

Rose said...


Very inspirational and true!


Audra Harders said...

Good morning everyone! Sorry about the skewed pics. It looked fine on preview. (heavy sigh)

Morning, Jessica! I read once *If you think you've arrived, then you probably haven't even begun.* So true of our novel journey. I think it's great when someone sells a few years into their writing training, but watch out, that does not mean the bumps in the road aren't waiting for them, too.

We all need strong hearts for our quest. Stop in Seekerville whenever you need a shot of encouragement : )

Audra Harders said...

Thank you, Forrest, er um Walt : )

Audra Harders said...

Go Jenny, go.


No chemistry needed. Sweats are totally acceptable!

Bring on those words!!

Julie Lessman said...

Audra ... what a beautifully inspirational piece this morning, my friend! And how right you are when you said, "The road to publication is not easy, but wow, what a ride ..." On a roller-coaster, definitely, and don't forget the Dramamine!!

And at this exact moment, my primary QUEST is some strong, hot coffee and a bowl of peach oatmeal. :)

Have a blessed day!


Audra Harders said...

Typing by candlelight, Ruth? Ooo, that means a manual typewriter, huh? I well remember the time...

My bravos go out to ol' Tom Edison. Thank you for staying the course. Although I am rather partial to little tea candles lit all around the house : )

Thanks for the treats, kiddo. Great bagel morning! Toasted first; cream cheese after. Mmm, starts the day off right!

Audra Harders said...

Mornin', Rose; mornin', Julie : )

Don't know how inspirational I am, but the truth sets you free, LOL! And I have to have some explanation for talking to myself at work! Glad they all love me : )

Peach oatmeal? Oatmeal serves as a great vehicle for any treat, doesn't it??

Sarah Forgrave said...

What an inspiring piece to start my morning! My favorite line was, "A quest isn’t chosen; it is foisted upon us." There are moments when I question the Person who foisted this upon me, but I keep plugging away until I find the joy in it again.

Mary Connealy said...

Wow, I wish I could write a book in a week.

I'm going to write HARD and try my best.

Great post, Audra.

Audra Harders said...

Hi Sarah!

Foisted. Isn't that a great word?

Use that in a sentence and people won't realize you're complaining, they're too busy fixated on the word : )

Glynna Kaye said...

Thank you for such an inspiring post this morning, Audra! Writing in hopes of publication isn't for the faint-hearted, is it? It IS a quest, an ongoing one, for once you're published there's always the next book. And the next. And the next. That's the beautiful thing about being a writer -- there are always new challenges, new opportunities to better learn and exercise the craft, to grow as a writer.

Audra Harders said...



Isn't that how you always write??

Okay, I'm adding whole grain, blueberry pancakes to our buffet.

And tart, fried apples. I have yet to taste the fried apples, but I've heard they're good : )

Lisa Jordan said...

Great post, Audra! So great meeting you in Denver!

I'm on my second laptop--chose to go Mac, my third printer, and more than I care to count. I've been writing a decade and I can honestly say it is paying off. First, with being runner up in my category for the Genesis contest, and then having both an editor and agent request the fulls of my manuscript. I'm working with an award-winning, talented published author who is helping me whip my novel into publishable shape!

None of this would've happened if I hadn't let the Lord guide my writing path, and if I hadn't been persistent in the craft, especially during those dark moments when it felt like my characters would never become three-dimensional!

Lisa Jordan said...

Oops, that was supposed to be more words than I care to count...silly brain. :-)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Audra, Great post and so appropriate. Because writing is self-motivated, you really do have to struggle with purpose, persistence, perseverance, etc. I sure needed this.

Yumm, I was just munching on the bagel when the blueberry pancakes popped up. What do I do? I guess I'll have to have both. LOL

Audra Harders said...

Hi Glynna! Hi Sandra!

You speak such true words! Always something new to write about and the 3 P's are so imporant in our work.

Purpose. Persistance. Perserverance.

Our quest never ends. It changes with us.

Isn't that great!

Audra Harders said...

Morning, Lisa!

Atta girl! Get those proposals in and thank the good Lord for all the preparation He's done in your life!

I was really great seeing you in Denver! Are you always so happy??
Bless your heart : )

How do you like your Mac? Don't really want to turn this into a PC vs Mac day, but WHY do you like it?

Erica Vetsch said...

So very stirring, Audra! It's always good to remember why we do what we do.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Audra, you said,
The writing journey is filled with the deepest sink holes and blackest moments.

I wish it weren't true, but it is.

So far, the best thing about writing is the friends I've made, including you. Otherwise, it's been a very unsuccessful undertaking, some would say a waste of time and money. But it's a quest, and I will not stop until the quest is won!

Watched Spiderman 2 last night. He tried to give up being Spiderman, but he couldn't. He finally realized, "I will always be Spiderman." Even if it meant he had to give up Mary Jane, the love of his life. Ah, I love that moment. Love that movie.

EC Spurlock said...

Wonderful inspirational post, Audra! But let's all take another lesson from Bob Ballard. After spending all those years searching for the Titanic, he neglected to actually lay claim to it under salvage laws. If he had, it would have been protected under his provenance. Instead, by not officially claiming it, he left it open to other salvagers who were then at liberty to despoil the wreck, stealing its treasures and selling them at outrageous prices.

After putting in so much effort over so many years, make sure you can take the credit for your own labor. Copyright everything. Limit access if need be. Protect the work, people, protect the work.

Donnell said...

Audra, wonderful post! Good luck in BIAW.

Debby Giusti said...

Great post!!! I spent more than 13 years following my dream, and I thank God everyday that it finally came true. Some days I don't know how I ever made it ... that's when the words don't come and the world interferes and I can't get the next story in to shape.

Setting goals along the way is important. And once published, we need to set new goals. Those who were at ACFW remember Debbie Macomber asked us to write down 5 goals for our future.

I've got two written. Need to add three more.

Thanks for your encouragement today, Audra. I'm looking forward to the BIAW. It's a win-win for all of us.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Wow, didn't that make me sit up and listen!!! Great post, and yes, I do have a quest, and my heart is in my writing where ever it leads me.

I think I'm going to do unplug week next week (or at least as close to unplug as I can) and join Seeker's challenge. Thanks for posing this!

Debra E Marvin said...

Hey, where'd the balloons come from? I don't deal well with change.

Oh Audra. You caught me watching Netflix last night when I coulda shoulda been working on those edits. The brain was fried. Where do we draw the line? the Quest pokes me all day at work and then by 8pm, I'm good for nothing. Must. Press. On.

Okay tonight's a new night. Thanks for the encouraging kick in the.

Audra Harders said...

Oh Erica! How can we forget with all the little voices stirring in our heads???

Audra Harders said...

Melanie, just think. If you hadn't listened to the tug on your heart to write awesome stories, you wouldn't have become a member of ACFW and attended the conference where I couldn't have taken multiple photos of you in Larimer Square!!

See? We don't always know what God has in mind now, do we???

I'm glad you chose to accept the Quest : )

Ann said...

I brought some apple fritters home from work.(Someone mentioned fried apples and I thought these would fill that apple-shaped void.)

A quest puts all the craziness in perspective here.

Not only to quiet down the voices in my head, but hopefully to minister to others who will enjoy reading about the voices -- well, actually, they are pictures in my head.

Good job!

Audra Harders said...

Wow, EC, I didn't know that! I read this much of his story and, silly me, thought the man would've claimed his find!!!

YES, I agree with you 100 per cent! We must be judicious in our sharing. But, not so much so that we miss out on sage advice.

Thanks for the tip!

Audra Harders said...

Goals are such a necessary evil, aren't they? Debbie Macomber makes a great case of goals and success is definitely golden ring!

I haven't written down any goals, Debby. Before BIAW, I'll try and get at least three.

Thanks for the reminder!

Audra Harders said...

Donnell! Eileen! Come play with us during BIAW week! I can't promise anything, but I THINK we'll have fun : )

Tina Pinson said...

That's some post, Audra!

I suppose I must see my writing as a quest. I've tried to walk away and feel ill for it.

I started on the families manual Remington in elementary. In my twenties the a couple keys began to stick, but I plugged away, until I managed to lay hold of a computer. Which moved rather slow at the time.
I've lost complete stories due to a crash of computers and was saved because I kept hard copies of my work.
Still have the old bohemoth,tucked on a shelf as a reminder of where I've been.

But I'm still looking ahead to that great quest, still trying to reach the Emerald City of Writing and hope the Great Oz Editor will be kind and let me get published.

Yes, I do have two e-books coming out over the next couple of years, but that hasn't soothed the writing beast in me. There are still too many stories to write, and day trips to take.

Let's hope one of them arises for the BIAW challenge.

Tina M. Russo said...

Audra, what an excellent post to shove our buns --I mean, gently nudge us to BIAW.

Pepper Basham said...

Oh Audra, thanks for the post. I needed some sword and shield brandishing today - and you provided the perfect tools.

I love that word...foisted.

You definitely have to feel writing in your blood to keep it up...and I'm SO glad my family are starting to realize that writing is a part of who God's called me to be. They even help sometimes.

My eleven year old son thinks I should write a fantasy about a brilliant eleven year old and his annoying seven year old sister :-)
Ooo, I'd love to have them come along on my quest ;-)

A. A. Stone said...

Audra--Love the question: is your writing a quest? It is, but for me it isn't the same quest that it started out to be. Why? Because God knew my motives were wrong. I wrote stories to fill me up, and God asked me to walk away from writing. So I did. For six years. Then God taught me something. He taught me that sacrifice and ministry are blessings. And He gave me my writing back, but now the quest is different. I want to write--but I want to write for Him, for others. To give them something I've learned the hard way. I'm so thankful I listened when He told me to ditch writing. It hurt. Alot. But then He gave me back stories with deeper meaning, richer depth, and the stamina to see them through because they weren't for me anymore. Oh, I still benefit. Big time. But I write because the pictures of His love just spill out and I long to share these insights in ways that other people can enjoy and come to love Him better.

So thank you. Thanks so much for reminding us that we need a quest! And God's the best quest giver!

Melanie Dickerson said...

I just re-read my comment and it sounded so depressing and fatalistic! LOL! Sorry, I didn't mean to sound like that. I love writing. My mother, about two years ago, right after she had tried to convince me I needed to get out and get a real job, and all I could say was that I didn't care about money, I just wanted to be able to write, she sighed and told me, "You're just a writer and that's all you're ever be."

I'm not sure if she meant it as a compliment, but I decided to take it that way. :-)

I loved our foray into Denver together, Audra. You're such a great person! I can't wait to celebrate your first contract!

Audra Harders said...

Hi Ann,

Perspective is good, always good : )

Audra Harders said...

Tina, I forgot about the computer crashes when we forget to back up and SOOOO much effort goes down the drain.

That's when I look over my shoulder and up, and think, really was it all that bad????

Audra Harders said...

Had to plug our play time!!

Pepper Basham said...

What a beautiful reply and great reminder of my priorities. Why do I write?
Because God's given me the desire and hopefully ability. So... it's for his glory and keeping that in mind makes a world of difference.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Fabulous, Audra. I read it and then re-read it and now am printing to ponder it.

There's something I've been praying for now for twenty years, and though it hasn't completely happened, I know the promise if it remains.

Great post!


Myra Johnson said...

Late to the party as usual, but wonderful post, Audra! So glad to be on this journey with my terrific Seekerville sisters and all the friends who have hopped on this roller coaster with us!

BTW, I made the switch to a Mac two years ago. No regrets. It's so intuitive. Crashes are rare to nonexistent. And the Apple Store folks have been so helpful about any little thing.

Cara Lynn James said...

Love your post, Audra! No worthwhile journey is easy, especially the writing journey.

What helps me is hearing about the ups and downs of other writers and how they overcome the failures and bumps in the road. Writers are an inspirational group, so to speak!
Without the encouragement of other writers it would be so easy to give up.

Audra Harders said...

Pepper, fantasy is good : ) Might help the family understand what drives us if they come along on the journey. Take that boy on his quest!!!

A.A. - I know exactly what you mean about sacrificing your dream. A few years ago I had to go back to work full time. Wore me out! All I could do was drag myself home and nap until it was time to go to bed : ) Took about a year of working and serving my family before I could even think of stringing coherent words together to form a book again. BUT, everything has fallen in place now. And, because I followed God's urging to go back to work, I now have a greater sense of time usage. I'm much more faithful to writing hours and feel my writing is deeper, too.

A.A.! I'm with you!!!

Audra Harders said...

Cheryl, if we are faithful, the Lord is faithful to us. Keep praying sister. Life is full of miracles!!

Myra, the thought of switching to Mac makes me shudder. Wouldn't I have to change all my software to be compatible with a Mac? I've heard Macs are virus proof. Now THAT might be worthwhile!

Cara, the writing journey of itself is such a lonely road. If we didn't have each other to share the good the bad and the ugly, wouldn't it be an awful trip?? With all the support here in Seekerville alone, I think I could write another, um, many years : )

Janet Dean said...

Audra!!! what a fantastic post!!! Thanks! The ups and downs of the writer's life are enough to make us crazy. But oh, what a joy when we get it right and the words flow and they're good. Mark my words... it won't be long.

Hugs, Janet

Cathy Shouse said...

This post really made me think.

Thanks for reaching down deep to write it. I'm thinking that's what I need to remember, that good writing has a cost. You have to really put yourself out there to have impact. I think that's the hardest part sometimes.


Jill Nutter said...

Hey Audra,
You're a woman I can relate to.:) I won't even say how long I've been persisting, but it's a long time.

I remember submitting to a contest once and the gal that judged my entry said something like, "If this is inspirational writing, I'm going to have to start reading those books." :) And what a compliment, even if I didn't final in that contest.

We never know how God is going to use us as we pursue our dreams.

Project Journal said...

Hi Audra!
Just getting on tonight finally!'s been a long day.

WOW! What a great post. You are very inspirational. You should do inspirational speeches at school and functions : ) You'd be great at it! Plus, I LOVED the Forrest Gump reference : ) Soooo great!

By the way, I remember reading the post about it, but I cannot remember how the book in a week thing works. I'd be willing to maybe give it a try, but I want to know how it works and what the rules are again before I commit.

Robin Caroll said...

Okay, so I'll agree...TO A POINT.

Let's not confuse passion with quest. Let's not confuse writing because it burns inside us with writing to become published. Let me explain...

You can have a quest to write, but not have passion for it. When I speak at schools, I let the kids know ANYBODY CAN LEARN TO WRITE. You can study the craft, attend courses, and master all the basics of good writing. You can have a quest to write, learn how to do it well, and write. But it's the passion burning in our hearts that make good storytelling.

About writing versus writing for publication. Yes, God calls many to write for His glory. Fiction. But is your goal, your "quest" to get the contract? Two different things. God has given me many stories that fueled in my heart and I wrote them, loving them. Sometimes crying at what came out of me, sometimes laughing. And then I realized, God never intended for that story to have a hope of being published. Maybe He needed ME to learn something that I could only learn through the writing journey of that particular story. Or maybe He needed me to write that story because it ministered to one of my crit partners or first readers. It wasn't intended to go out into the masses--God had a definite purpose in the story (He usually does, btw) and it was to minister to someone close to me, not the public. Does that make it less important? I think not.

I see so many writers today becoming frustrated with rejections, irritated with the trends in publishing, and questioning themselves. Friends, yes, this is a tough business, but I ask you to instead of looking at it as a quest for publication, look more into your heart. Is God giving you a story to write? Are you writing it to the best of your ability to honor Him? Are you willing to be obedient in writing the story, even if it's never, ever meant to be published? Are you willing to do that? Will that be enough for you? If you said no, then I suggest some deep soul-searching.

A very dear friend of mine, a Seeker, once had an interaction with the Holy Spirit about this...would she still write for Him, even if she never got published? Ouch. That it moved her to tears and she said she'd write for Him, even if that contract never came, moved me beyond words. That she would be so obedient, even denying her own fleshy desire, to honor His wishes above her, I still get chills. Did she know how much her sharing that would move me? Others? Call us to question our own motives in writing?

So, while having passion and a quest are fine and good, I strongly urge you to ask yourself...WHO are you writing for? What is really your goal--writing in obedience and honor, or writing for publication? Yes, it's nice when the two mesh, but I'm a firm believer that one's motives speak louder than the actual act.

Sorry this got so just sat heavy on my heart to share. Many blessings!