Thursday, 15 November 2018


by Jeanette O'Hagan

In my latest release, Stone of the Sea, one of the characters thinks, "Waiting was all they seemed to do these days. Wait for food. Wait for to learn their fate. Wait for Baba to return and take back the realm.'

Sometimes being a writer can feel like that - waiting to finish a novel,  waiting for feedback, waiting to hear back from agents and publishers, waiting to be published, waiting for sales, waiting for reviews, waiting for traction in the market, waiting for... it doesn't seem to end.

When I launched back into writing about six years ago, I thought getting published was the ultimate goal. After a while, it seemed like that goal would never happen. Others achieved it, but I didn't.

So I was over the moon with when a few of my poems and a short story was accepted for publication in 2014. Holding a published book with my story in it was a thrilling experience. Yet, I soon discovered that with each goal achieved, there are others that loom ahead and the waiting begins again - and with it the uncertainty and the feeling that the new horizon remains beyond reach and the voices of doubt and discouragement multiply. It can be frustrating and demoralising.

What I've learned along the way is that waiting is part of the journey. It's part of the way of things. But it doesn't last for ever.

Things Happen While We Wait 

When I was seven, I decided to grow a pawpaw tree. Armed with a little knowledge and a great deal of enthusiasm, I separated out a single seed, found a gardening spade and marched out to the back garden. I dug a hole—probably about 30 cms deep—placed the seed at the bottom of the pit, flooded it with water from the hose, piled in the dirt, patted and shaped the resulting slurry until it was a hard  concrete dome (drawing on my uber-mudcake making skills, but that's another story).

I congratulated myself and sat back and waited for the tree to sprout and grow.

Next day, I checked my tree-in-the making. The mound looked just as I left it. Maybe, little drier under the baking Mt Isa sun. I added some more water. The next day—nothing, just bare dirt. The following day—well, you guessed it, nothing.

Frustrated and worried, I grabbed the spade and dug up the seed to see if it was growing yet. Nope. I buried it again. Dug it up the following day. 

Mum said, ‘Be patient, Jenny. Seeds take time to grow.’

My first venture into horticulture was, I confess, a huge failure, but it taught me something. That good things take time to grow. That patience is an important asset. And digging up seeds is not a great strategy.

Growing plants requires knowledge—what does the plant like in terms of soil, water, position, depth to plant the seed etc—and experience.

It also requires, active waiting. Passive or idle waiting is doing nothing and expecting something to grow. In active waiting, we plant, care for and tend the plant, but we don’t keep digging it up each day to see if it’s growing.

Looking back now, I'm glad my novel wasn't published immediately. It gave me time to hone my craft, become aware of current styles, grow a nework. I'm still not very good at waiting, but I can appreciate it's necessity.

God's timing matters

Six years on, and I have many short stories and poems published. I've published three novellas in my Under the Mountain series, a collection of short stories and my first novel, Akrad's Children.  I've seen sales and reviews, yet I'm still very much a small fish in this big pond.

I write because I love writing and I have so many stories waiting to be written. It's such a joy when others enjoy my stories as much as I do :)

I also write because I feel called to it and believe that God can speak through my writing, even though it is aimed at the general market.

I would love my writing to be sustainable - so I can continue to write and to publish. Sometimes that seems an impossible dream. This year I've been under some pressure to 'show results' and as the putative deadline looms, I've felt pressured and overwhelmed, trying to do everything with all the other roles, responsibilities and expectations. At the same time, sales took a dip, finding reviewers for my latest book met mostly deaf ears, and my campaign chest emptied. It seem an impossible task. Growth was slow or invisible.

In the midst of my frenzy- God has blessed me through the kindness of friends, through small encouragements (another great review, a fan asking about a sequel, an unexpected job, great sales and interactions at Supernova last weekend).

Most of all, He reminds me that He gives life, He gives the growth, He builds the house. I realised I was holding on too tight, that I needed to release my death grip on my dream, to give back to him the dream he ignited in me out of the ashes.

Once again, I'm learning to wait on Him and to trust him with the desires of my heart.

I don't know what the future holds, but I do know whose hand I'm holding as walk toward it. And that is all I need.


Jeanette started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing.

Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. They involve a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic users.

She has published numerous short stories, poems, two novellas and her debut novel, Akrad's Children and Ruhanna's Flight and other stories.

Her latest release, Stone of the Sea (the third novella) is now available. .

Subscribe (here) to Jeanette's monthly email newsletter for the latest on cover reveals, new releases, giveways, and receive the short story Ruhanna's Flight for free.

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  1. Thanks Jenny for a lovely, inspiring post. Loved the story of little Jenny planting a pawpaw tree. Made me smile. :) We writers do indeed have lots of waiting periods. And like you said, it's all part of the journey. I know life is full of waiting periods too as I have discovered. No wonder God asks us in the Word to wait patiently for Him. I've discovered that there are lots of waiting times that cannot be hurried. Meanwhile God grows our characters through it and teaches us what it means to fully trust Him. Three Novellas, a book of short stories and a novel is wonderful! Well done my friend. I'm sorry for the challenges you have been through but so glad God blessed you with many encouragements too. May He continue to bless your work and to touch lives and change the world through all your writing.

    1. Thanks, Anusha. Thanks for your encouraging words and prayers. I know God has blessed others many times through your writing. I pray also 'May He continue to bless your work and to touch lives and change the world through all your writing.' Amen.

  2. Thanks for that Jenny. It's so good to see what you've achieved in the last few years with your writing and that you're now building a great backlist that will continue to grow.

    I can really relate to your thoughts on waiting. I've had lots of short pieces published, but am still working on the novel. Sometimes publication seems so far in the future and it's easy to grow impatient and want to just get something out now! But it's been a huge learning curve for me too and I've learned so much in the process of writing my novel. The next one should be a lot easier ... maybe.

    Your persistence and diligence in your craft has been an inspiration to me. I pray God blesses you richly for all the time you've put into it and for all you do to help other writers.

    1. Thanks, Nola. So hard to wait, isn't it. I'm looking forward to seeing Scattered published and pray that it will be just at the right time. You too have inspired me and I greatly appreciate your friendship.

  3. Yes, it’s so true. But God prepares us in the waiting so we “lack nothing” James 1:4
    Love your post!

  4. Wow! What an inspiring post Jenny. Thank you for sharing such wisdom. Yes, life is always about waiting isn't it? It's such a blessing to have our beautiful, heavenly Father behind us and before us in everything we attempt, as He is the Master of patience and perfect timing. Your future writings shall be in my prayers dear Jenny. God bless.

  5. Thanks, Jo-Anne. It is a blessing and a great reassurance. Your prayers are appreciated and I wish you all the best for your writing journey.

  6. Yep, waiting's a big part of an author's life. :-)

    1. Sure is. Hoping some your projects come to fruition in 2019, Lynne.

  7. Active waiting...I love this!! Wonderful post Jenny. Amazing what and who we meet and learn along the way.

    1. Thanks Di. I love that I have made so many wonderful writer friends :) It is as much about the journey as the destination :)

  8. I could just see you earnestly "nurturing" your pawpaw seed, Jeanette. LOL. You make such a valuable point about waiting patiently. (Something I'm not always brilliant at. :) ) It's been such a privilege seeing your writing journey unfold, including your recent success at Supernova, and I look forward to your future releases.

    1. Thanks, Adele. I'm not that good at waiting too, but looking forward to seeing your new stories in print. Thanks for your encouragement along the way.

  9. So true, Jeanette.
    As the saying goes Lord please give me patience-right NOW!” Waiting till the timing is right is one of the hardest things. Hope you’ve grown pawpaws since.

    1. So true, waiting is hard. And yes, I think I have, mainly by scattering the seeds in a clump on the ground, lol.

  10. This is definitely a "word in season" for me. I am currently struggling to "release my death grip" on a situation. Sometimes it's really difficult to wait and wait and wait... Thank you for your honesty and the gentle reminder that God is in control.