Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Rear Guard

I think my brother might be getting bored and lonely, looking for looters all alone in his deserted flooded town. His son returned to Buffalo.  All the fun of the flood has lost its sparkle.
"Oh boo hoo," he texted, "Being in a flood sux."

He says it will be a month before the house can be lived in again. I don't know if he intends to hole up there with his shotgun that whole time. He didn't text for long with me, last night. His phone is giving him problems. It keeps texting dollar signs. I thought he was making a statement about what is happening to his bank account with the destruction of his home by the flood. However, the phone has been typing those dollar signs all by itself.

So I tried to divert his attention from his woes by telling him about the new helicopter challenge in Science Olympiad. We could build a copter very similar to what we did last year, or for three times the score, we can build a "non co-axial helicopter."
I quickly researched non co-axial helicopters. The two rotors are on different motor sticks, rather than one, like last years. I didn't read much about how to accomplish our task. I was just trying to define terms.
"So, I texted John, "I think we are going to build a non coaxial helicopter."
"How will you counteract torque?"
"Dunno."
"Good plan, Missy!"
"It's all I got."
"Better get another."
"Nah, actually if they spin opposite to each other, won't that counteract torque?"
"Correct."

I discussed some other top secret design issues with him, but he only texted back one word answers. His phone was losing heart in the aftermath of the flood. And adding the costs in the aftermath of the flood. It was texting line after line of dollar signs.

I would presume people will be straggling back to the town as the water recedes, and he won't need to stay there as constantly. Power and heat will be back by Saturday, and maybe then, internet so he can use his computer.
"Living off the grid," as he put it, stinks after the first flush of novelty wears off.

Meanwhile, in between homeschooling, I have been editing Book #2. I wrote it last year, and did the stupidest thing a writer can do. With only cursory editing, I had sent it off to a few agents. As I am rereading it now, I am surprised by how many liked it. It really was not nearly ready to be seen by anyone but a vigorous revising pen. I am discovering that the more wonderful I think my writing is when I first write it...the worse it is in actuality. I think book #2 has potential, but I spent a full day yesterday, 8 hours, editing a 6 page chapter.
Well maybe 7 hours. The other hour was spent banging my head against the wall, ripping out my hair, and asking myself out loud why on earth I had sent this unedited work to agents, thus securing the likelihood of never finding a publisher for it.

I have read that one of the biggest mistakes of new authors is sending their work to agents before it is polished enough, before it is carefully edited, before it is ready. Guilty, I thought, reading and editing Book #2 and wondering how on earth I had thought it was any good. I stink, I thought wearily. I guess both John and I were feeling similarly dispirited by the long haul.

I had a dream of fighting some big and dangerous enemy, last night. I don't know who or even what it was, but it was relentless. It kept coming after me, sneaking up on me, attacking me. I knew I had no choice. I had to kill it. With a venom I had not realized I had in me, I caught it off balance on a cliff edge, and then I hurled it to the rocks below. Its head smashed against the rocks and burst. The enemy was destroyed, but I awoke in a panicked sweat. Trembling, I grabbed my bedside Bible and began to read. I don't know if the enemy crawled back up from the cliff in later dreams that night. I don't remember any other dreams.

Too much confidence is not a good thing. It makes one do idiotic things like send manuscripts off to agents when it is only in stage one revision. But loss of confidence, despair, is worse. It becomes an enemy that will kill you if you don't kill it. It's an enemy that doesn't stay dead, either. I have had this dream before. Fortunately, God warns us that there is an antidote. If we enter His house, and listen to Him, we may avoid offering the sacrifice of fools. Listen, learn, and don't be hasty. The enemy is on the prowl, but God is my rearguard.
I wonder what John dreamed about last night.

Ecclesiastes 5

 1]Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.  2 Do not be quick with your mouth,
   do not be hasty in your heart
   to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
   and you are on earth,
   so let your words be few.
3 A dream comes when there are many cares,
   and many words mark the speech of a fool.

Isaiah 52:

12 But you will not leave in haste
   or go in flight;
for the LORD will go before you,
   the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

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