By Sarah Sundin
The writing life takes courage. Courage to declare yourself a writer when the world tells you to do something “useful.” Courage to set your words before strangers. Courage to speak to professionals who could make your dreams come true or dash them to pieces.
For seventeen years, I’ve been studying the men and women of the World War II era to write my novels. Their courage has inspired me.
On June 6, 1944, seventy-four years ago today, the Allied armies invaded Nazi-occupied France on an overcast morning called D-day. Last fall I had the privilege of standing on Omaha Beach in Normandy. It was a quiet morning and peaceful, but I could imagine the gunfire pocking the golden sands, the smoke rising from the green bluffs, the men falling, the men dying.
What gave them the courage to step off those landing craft and charge across those treacherous beaches? How can we glean courage from their examples?
Training and Equipment
The soldier on D-day trusted his equipment and training. Historians argue the merits of various weapons and vehicles, but the average soldier believed in his M-1 rifle, his BAR machine gun, and the hand grenade that fit like a baseball in his hand. Confidence in his equipment and training gave him courage.
As writers, we become trained by attending writers’ conferences, reading books on the writing craft, and through practice, practice, practice. That training gives us tools, such as outlining tips, editing hacks, or understanding personality types. Good training gives us confidence in our craft, confidence that gives us courage.
When veterans are asked how they had the courage to face battle, almost all will say something like, “Courage? I was quaking in my combat boots. But I kept going for the sake of my buddies.” The average soldier trusted his buddies even more than his M-1 rifle. They’d trained together, goofed off together, shot the breeze together, and now they would face death together.
Buddies are also vital in the writing world. No one understands writers like other writers (we’re weird, right?). Writers’ conferences are the single best way to assemble our platoon. I need my buddies to stand beside me, and I love that they need me too. They give me courage, and buddies can give you courage too.
A High Purpose
On D-day, the Allied soldier knew he was fighting the Nazis, who had enslaved most of Europe and were terrorizing, starving, and murdering the population. He knew he was fighting for freedom and democracy. He knew his purpose was high and noble and good. Even if that wasn’t in the forefront of his mind that day, the knowledge ran deep and undergirded him with courage.
As Christian writers, we fight for the highest purpose of all. Our enemy has enslaved the bulk of humanity and bound them in chains of sin and death. We fight with our words for the cause of true freedom, abundant life, and everlasting hope. Our purpose is high and noble and great. That knowledge gives us courage.
When God has called us to write, we mustn’t let anything stand in our way. We must seek training and nourish our community, and most of all we must cling to the knowledge that God can use our words to bring life and hope.
Have courage, soldier!Need courage in the writing life? Inspiration from the men of #DDay from author @sarahsundin #ACFWblogs #amwriting Click To Tweet
Sarah Sundin is the bestselling and award-winning author of ten World War II novels, including The Sea Before Us, the first book in the Sunrise at Normandy series, which follows three brothers on D-day. Sarah lives in California and enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups. Visit at www.sarahsundin.com.