Wednesday 27 August 2014

Keeping Going or Changing Direction?

On a recent trip down the Great Ocean Road in Victoria we stopped off to see a waterfall.  This was the point where we turned off the highway. 

I have a passion for waterfalls.  I gave this passion for waterfalls to one of my male characters in Streets on a Map. There is something about the rush of water and the thunder of the water falling that I find serene. When we got to the point where we had to leave the car and walk, we investigated the information sign to find out how far to the falls. Wouldn’t you know that piece of the information had been weather affected and was unreadable? However underneath it informed us the round trip to take in the waterfall and several other scenic sights was 7 kilometres. ‘How far can it be just to the waterfall?’ we wondered. We decided to give it a go.

The way led up a number of steep steps, then along for bit then more steep steps. We began to wonder about the wisdom of our decision. We saw people panting and puffing coming back. ‘How far we asked them?’  The man smiled. ‘Maybe half a kilometre.’  Even though legs were already protesting about the number of steep steps climbed, we could manage more. On and on we went and still no sign of a water fall. Many times we almost turned back. Our calves protested. But sheer stubbornness kept us going forward. More steps and not all of them going up as we expected. Some went down, before they turned back up again.

Eventually when it seemed we would give up we heard the waterfall. We must be nearly there. We pressed on. And on and on. Still no sign of a waterfall. Obviously the man who’d told us half a kilometre must have forgotten the other five or six kilometres, we decided. With aching legs and more than a little dispirited, we continued. 

The sound of the waterfall grew a little louder. Then we turned a corner and we could see it a little. Another couple short of breath came towards us. ‘How far is it?’ we asked. ‘About the same distance as you have already come.’  We thanked him. We looked at the path still curving upwards with myriad more steps. We thought back over the way we had already come and all the steps we had to retrace the stairs to get back to the car and made a decision. No way! We had been crazy to even attempt it. We knew this was as close as we were getting to that waterfall.  A glance at each other and we produced the camera. If you look carefully you will see the faintest glimpse of that waterfall in the distance.

By the time we got finally back to the car we were stiff, with just about every part of us aching. We collapsed into the seat with relief and drove further on. When I saw a sign to another waterfall, the look my husband gave me was priceless. However being the loving guy he is, he obligingly took the turn. By this time a violent wind had sprung up. It was a case of dodging branches falling off the gum trees as he drove. But we kept going and made it safely to the lookout site. ‘If it doesn’t tell us how far, or it’s more than a short stroll, I’m not budging,’ my husband announced. I could hardly blame him. I felt much the same.

When we reached the sign it told us 100 metres. No worries. Tired as we were, we could manage that.  So we got to enjoy the second waterfall more fully. Here are the photo.

Sometimes with writing it can feel like that first trek. We keep pressing on and on and yet never seem to get any closer to the goal. We have a choice - either to keep going or to give up and change direction and head off somewhere else as we did with the waterfalls. It’s hard to know at what point you stop trying to persist with something that doesn’t seem to be working. It might be better to put it aside and start on something new. Later, if you come back to it you may pick up why it wasn’t working before. I have done that with some poems and fiction. Other times it may just be consigned to the ‘put away and perhaps work on one day or maybe never pile.’

Yes, we could all say ‘pray about it,’ but sometimes God doesn’t make it as clear as we would like. Of course the other alternative is He is not giving us the answer we want to hear, so we choose to ignore it. So how do we know what we should do in this circumstance? Over to you to see if you have any wise suggestions.
Dale writes fiction, poetry, children’s fiction, bible studies and has written puppet plays and Sunday school lessons. As well as writing and reading, Dale loves to sing. She is involved in the music ministry at her church. More information about Dale can be found at or on her Write and Read with Dale blog


  1. Hi Dale - I agree that a pile to ‘put away and perhaps work on one day or maybe never’ is a good idea. Sometimes God simply doesn't answer what's not working with a manuscript. Or rather, English does not contain the words He needs to really explain what He wants. This is something I've noticed repeatedly. I have one book coming out next year that I didn't even submit to a publisher until recently because, for over 20 years, I've felt the Spirit say there was something not quite right with it. It took me all that time to get the message about what it was! So, I think the interior sense not to go on (at the moment) you've described, is a very valid one.

  2. Hi Dale,
    I'm glad you pressed on in your quest along the Great South Ocean Road. Waterfalls are beautiful and well worth seeing. However, I appreciate your analogy to writing. I know just what you're talking about. A couple of times, I've put projects aside because they didn't feel just right, and then got a spurt of adrenaline for them several years later. And usually, I've developed some sort of insight or extra feeling for the theme, which I wouldn't have had if I decided to grit my teeth and work through it at the time.

  3. Hi Dale - love those waterfalls!

    I must admit, if something isn't working with my writing, I leave it for a bit. If nothing crops up, I leave it for a much longer bit and gather God is nudging me in a different direction. Sometimes the piece is useful, sometimes it's simply a writing exercise that leads me to another, better place. All the treks to the waterfall are appreciated, no matter how long or short.

  4. Thanks for your post Dale. For me the never-ending trek to the receding waterfall applies more the the publishing journey than writing. Since getting back into writing at the beginning of 2012 I've revamped my original novel & almost finished writing the first draft of book number 4. I need to go back and reedit and realistically 3 years isn't a long time :) But I did reach that point with my ThD studies in 2008 - a difficult and heartbreaking decision but the right one at the time. To be honest it felt like the end of the road but God was whispering to me otherwise - and it took 3 years for me to listen and start along the track to that second waterfall. Sometimes I wonder what all those years pursuing my doctorate was about but I do know that nothing is ever truely wasted in God's economy as he restores to us the years that the locusts have eaten Joel 2:25.

  5. Thanks Annie, Andrea, Jeanette and Paula for comments. Have to say Annie I'll be looking with interest for your book next year after taking so long to come to fruition.

  6. Thanks for sharing your 'waterfall journey' along the South Coast with us--my legs feel sore even thinking about your attempt to find that first waterfall! I have put a couple of writing 'expeditions' aside in my writing journey and know for sure I won't go back to one of them. But the other? Well maybe one day!

  7. Dale, lovely post :) I love waterfalls, too and I'm glad you were able to see the second one.

  8. Enjoyed your post, Dale. Insightful comparing the waterfalls to writing. So true.

  9. Thanks Enisa, Jo-Anne and Narelle for stopping off at my waterfalls long enough to have a look.


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