Friday, August 14, 2015

Best of the Archives: Gone Fishing!

RWA 2015 Literacy Autographing, NYC
This post first appeared in Oct 2013. Seekerville is closed to comments today. See you tomorrow for the Weekend Edition.

Debby Giusti here!

Summer isn’t summer without a trip to the beach. Usually we head to the Gulf Coast, but his year, we changed direction and ended up at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The first morning I rose early, grabbed my camera and left the hotel, ready to snap some photos. The day was picture perfect with clear skies, warm sunshine and blue water that stretched as far as the eye could see.

Seagulls cawed overhead, then swooped low and glided across the water in search of fish. Others forged for mole crabs they swallowed whole, while still others watched the waves, their heads turned into the wind, like tiny statues in the sand.

All around me, sandpipers scurried on stick-like legs. Digging with their long, thin beaks, they searched for tiny, butterfly-shaped clams, called coquinas, buried in the wet sand.

In the distance, I spotted a fisherman standing in the surf. He cast his line then anchored his pole on the beach and repeated the process with a second rod and reel. I raised my camera and snapped a few shots as I walked toward him.

Mid-sixties with a ruddy complexion and weather-worn skin, the man nodded a greeting as I approached, and we struck up a conversation. Originally from New York, he had vacationed at Myrtle for seventeen years and, after retirement, moved south to spend the rest of his years on the beach doing what he loved best, namely fishing.

“What have you caught?” I asked, eager to know about the bounty of the Carolina coastal waters.

“Just about everything over the years. Red snapper, pompano, whiting, flounder. Even a shark.”

Scanning the water, his brown eyes narrowed in the glare from the sun’s reflection. “There.” He pointed. “See the ripples? A school of mullet is heading this way. They’re good bait, and whenever you see the smaller fish, you know the big ones are nearby.”

Scooping up his net from where it lay on the sand, he wrapped the cast line around his wrist and waded into the surf. Patiently, he waited as the churning water, alive with fish, undulated closer.

With one swift swoop, he tossed the net high into the air. It opened in a circle mid-flight and landed atop the waves, visible for only a moment before it dropped below the surface.

Quickly, he pulled the line to trap the fish, but when lifted from the water, the net was empty. Undeterred by his failed attempt, he repeated the process over and over again. The mullet eluded capture, yet he continued on, seemingly unfazed by his lack of success.

Eventually, I walked on, but my thoughts remained on the fisherman with the empty net. In a way, I could see how fishing paralleled the writing life.

I thought of my years of persistence before my first book sold. I wrote six completed manuscripts and many partials and sent them out to contest judges and publishing houses and literary agencies, hoping to garner interest from someone, from anyone.

Yes, I got discouraged at times, but invariably when at my lowest ebb, something unexpected – a request, a contest final, a rejection that included encouragement or a bit of praise – buoyed me to continue on.

As time passed, my writing improved, but the goal to publish seemed even more elusive. I pushed on every door not knowing which one, if any, would open.

God reveals himself through His Word, and one particular scripture passage – John 21:3-7 -- spoke to my heart, especially when I was so close, yet still unsuccessful in fulfilling my writing dream.

You know the story. Peter has fished all night and caught nothing. The Lord calls from the shore and tells Peter to make a change and move his net to the other side of the boat.

In that passage, Christ was talking directly to me. I changed my secular intrigue into a Christian suspense.  Like Peter, my nets had been empty so I tossed them on the other side of the boat, on the inspirational genre side.

My story sold. The Seekers formed. We started this blog, and now, six years later, I can look back and see the Lord guiding me as I learned my craft and honed my skills and eventually transitioned from secular to Christian stories. God’s timing is perfect and, indeed, it was for me.

Retracing my steps that morning at Myrtle Beach, I noticed the fisherman had caught one fish and reeled in a second as I waved and scurried passed, heading back to the hotel.

Once in my room, I settled into a comfy chair to spend quiet time with the Lord. Opening to the day’s scripture, I had to smile. 

Luke 5:1-11 

Another story where the Lord told Peter, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” As usual, Peter groused. “Master, we have worked hard all night and caught nothing,” but he followed the Lord’s promptings and the fish filled two boats almost to sinking.

God had brought me to the beach on this particular day -- in His perfect time -- so I could watch a fisherman cast his net and reflect on Peter, who Christ called to be a “fisher of men.” 

Some years earlier, God had called me to write stories that included his message of love and mercy. He had opened many doors along the way, but that day at Myrtle Beach, I like to think He opened a door of affirmation and confirmation that let me know I was where he wanted me to be. My net still comes up empty at times, but—like the man on the beach—I keep fishing.

Preparing for this blog, I thought of the attributes fishermen possess that compliment the writing life.

H…hard work 
M…management skills 
N…never give up 

WordWeb, an online dictionary, provided the following meanings that fit the writing life as well:

Fortitude: Strength of mind that enables one to endure adversity with courage

Ingenuity: The power of creative imagination

Strength: The property of being physically or mentally strong

Hard Work: (1) Hard: Not easy; requiring great physical or mental effort to accomplish or comprehend or endure; (2) Work: Activity directed toward making or doing something; applying the mind to learning and understanding a subject

Energetic:  Enterprising or ambitious drive; an imaginative, lively style (especially style of writing)

Resolute:  Characterized by firmness and determination

Management Skills: (1) Manage: To  be successful; achieve a goal (2) Skills: An ability that has been acquired by training

Enthusiasm: A feeling of excitement; a lively interest

Never Give Up:  Tenacity; persistent determination

Instead of leaving a comment, spend some time reflecting on the following questions. What attributes do you find necessary for this writer’s life? Have you cast your net on the right side of the boat? Are you listening to the Lord’s directions from the shore? What do you see farther down the beach? Have you pushed on any doors recently? Is there a scripture that encourages you to persevere?

Happy Writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

By Debby Giusti

While babysitting a young servicewoman’s infant, Natalie Frazier hears a murder in the neighboring army duplex. Convinced her former commander is behind the crime, the ex-soldier bolts with the baby. But who will believe her story? Army investigator Everett Kohl deals only with the facts, but this time his gut instincts can’t be denied. Is the attractive Natalie a cunning killer, as his ranking officers believe, or an innocent victim? Ordered to bring her in, Everett has a decision to make. Helping her could cost him his job…but not protecting  Natalie and the baby could get all of them killed…

Order your copy in digital or print format: Amazon.