Monday, June 13, 2016

The Journey of a Pirate's Family

Peter Leavell
My wife sat at the canoe’s bow. I played rudder in the back, while my son (16) and daughter (13) rowed. We floated on heavy waves within sight of Seattle’s Space Needle.

We weren’t making much headway against the wind.

I offered encouragement. “Throw your back into it, me hardies.”

To keep their spirits up, I started singing a sea chantey—as fathers are wont to do.

My daughter asked my son if a mutiny and a keelhauling were in order. Their accents descended to 17th Century Spanish Main pirates.

None of this helped my wife’s seasickness, but like the true sailor she is, she kept a stiff rowing pace for the rest of us.

Our captain’s cabin was still a mile and a half away.

I was thinking, how absurd is this? Humans travel 24,000 miles per hour to grace the moon with our presence. We rowed at about .00001 knots per hour. But gravity presses us against the water, wind shoves us backward, and our muscles fight against both. Why? Why put ourselves through the torture?

Why write? Why did I spend ten years, three manuscripts, one million words that no one will see simply to see a book on the shelf for six months? Why did I dig deep into myself to see if I could conjure something people would pay to read? Why all the emotional pain, suffering, and ecstasies with every defeat or success?

Traveling to the moon would be easier.

Here’s my story on why I did what I did—yours is probably different. God gave me the desire. I performed the work (with His blessing). And one day, I woke up, and I was an author. Ten years of effort.

So what was the point?

The journey.

Grinding through plots, getting to know my characters, researching the past and the locations—there’s the magic. The entire point of Ecclesiastes is to enjoy the moment. Because that’s all the satisfaction we’ll find—loving the work God give us. The joy reflects His character.

Yes, your dreams can come true. But then what? You look back on the journey.
Ready to set out.

Our arms ache from rowing. We kiss the dock. Slaps on the back and a cool drink of iced tea inside the captain’s cabin for all. Our dinner discussions ranged from how we looked for surfacing nuclear subs to Jaws to pirating a nearby barge next time we’re at sea.

Writing, as in life—the journey that brings the most pleasure. Pause and enjoy your characters. Love the setting. Revel in the plot. Let God take care of the agent or editor.

And, if given a choice. Be a pirate. Always be the pirate.

Peter Leavell is an award winning historical fiction author. He and his family research together, creating magnificent adventures. Catch up with him on his website at, or friend him on Facebook: Peter R. Leavell.