Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How's It Going to End?

"Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb."-Sir Winston Churchill

And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.-James 1:4

Today I received a cute little black and gold badge from ACFW. It will sit in my inbox for a little while, so I can take it out on discouraging days and remember.

Because one year ago today, finishing my novel was a joke. I didn't think I would ever accomplish it. I was discouraged by my first year of homeschooling and all that entailed. I didn't make the time to write. I didn't think I had the time.

Yet somewhere along the way I discovered I needed to make the time. Writing is a ministry and even if I don't ever show my work to anyone else God has used it in my own heart to craft changes in me. 

ACFW 2011. My homeschool group was starting that week. It keeps me quite busy with teaching and serving, I didn't think I would have a minute to miss the fact that I wasn't at ACFW. The truth was...I didn't deserve to be at ACFW, right? I didn't even have a manuscript finished. That night I decided to watch the ACFW awards streaming. Our dear Alley friends were sweet enough to send those of us at home pictures from their phones, and Sherrinda and I were able to chat online from our homes.

That night I broke down bawling. I told my husband, Chris, I really didn't think I would finish my manuscript. Maybe it just wasn't my time for writing and maybe I should let go of the dream. Maybe someday I would finish my book, but I was skeptical. 

My husband reminded me of all the "accidents" that had happened in the short time since I had started writing. He knows we don't believe in "accidents." 

Then he gave me an ultimatum. "I want you to write every other day for one hour for at least a month. If you do, I'll buy you the ACFW conference CDs."

It wasn't about the CDs. It was about the challenge. I needed to prove to myself that I could finish this book.

Shortly afterward I talked to my dear Alley mate, Casey, on the phone. Y'all know that Casey is a bonafide cheerleader!! She told me about #1K/1hr on twitter. Now I had a challenge and a goal. Casey held my toes to the fire (just kidding, of course), the truth is the Lord knew I needed accountability to finish my book and so he gave me a persisent online pal and a husband who wanted me to reach my dreams.

So this novel I started a year and a half ago has been finished in 1K/1 hour segments several times a week from September through February 4th. 

Do you have to give something up to reach that goal?

I loved blogging and book reviewing. I still review for the Title Trakk on a regular basis, but I've given up my personal blog and the rest of my book reviewing. I do not get on Twitter or Facebook. (Although I do click on the bottom of the post to "tweet" my Alleymates posts when I can). I no longer keep up on blogs. 

Possibly I have missed some great contacts that will help me later on. I know I have missed catching up with online friends I have met. 

But writing is just one piece of my pie. I prefer to spend that time on my novel, as per Jody Hedlund's advice here ("How Much Time Should Writers Devote to Social Media"). 

There are other things I've had to give up along the way. That's just part of the journey. 

I don't know how its going to end, this writing journey. In the end I just keep pressing towards the mark. Falling far short at times. Many times. 

If you've finished a manuscript or even if you haven't, I challenge you to take the time to thank someone who has helped you along the way. 

What has helped you reach your writing goal? Who has helped you along the way? 

(I hope you'll permit me the indulgence to post my badge here, since I no longer blog on my personal blog).

Julia enjoys writing women's fiction whenever she can find a chair free of smushed peanut butter sandwiches and lego blocks. She is a wife and homeschooling mama of two littles. She also enjoys reading and reviewing books for The Title Trakk, a Christian review site.


Beth K. Vogt said...

Brava, Julia! Happy Dancing for you!! You did it -- and you did it with focus and purpose and friends!! Woo Hoo!!!

Jeanne T said...

Wooo-hoooo, Julia! Sooo happy for you, and I appreciate the encouragement. :) I am close to writing "The End" for the first time on my wip. I love that your husband spurred you on.

My biggest thanks go out to my husband, and my dear friend, Beth, who just commented above. Both have been instrumental in helping me get this far on this journey.


Keli Gwyn said...

Congratulations on reaching The End, Julia! That's quite an accomplishment. I hope you did (or plan to do) something special to celebrate.

Julia M. Reffner said...

@ Beth,

Thanks, I love happy dances. :). I have been so blessed along the way. I know you have been a help to so many in their journeys and you are always an encouragement here.


Yes, I'm lucky. My husband is a major time encourager. And will have the scary job of first reader :). Be sure to post here when you finish so we can cheer for you. And be sure to sign up for that badge.

@ Keli,

Thanks. My family celebrated with me with dinner, chocolate and a trip to Barnes & Nobles. What better celebration for a book lover! Thanks for the encouragement you've been to all of us here at the Alley in our journeys. Can't wait for your release!

Lindsay Harrel said...

Congrats on writing The End, Julia! I did the same thing last November. It was such a relief to know I finished what I had started.

Julia M. Reffner said...

@ Lindsay,

Congrats to you on finishing as well. It is a relief. :)

Hutt-Write Voice said...

Well done! Happy journey...wherever it's going to lead!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Yeah Julia! I finished mine in January. Wow it's amazing to add those two words (invisibly of course) to the end of the manuscript. It's like...stepping on a beach and breathing the fresh sea air. ahhhhh
So happy for you :)

Julia M. Reffner said...

@ Linda,

Thank you!!


Thanks, I'm quite excited for you, too!! I think its so neat that you have a writing ministry towards children/teens!

Angie Dicken said...

Great post, and CONGRATS! I agree, it is hard to balance it all, something's got to give! I will say that my thanks goes out to my crit partner, Ashley! I seriously very nearly threw in the towel and she was the most encouraging, persistent friend. Love her!

Julia M. Reffner said...


That's for sure! I'm so excited that we get to have Ashley for part of our crew!! Can't wait to get to know you better, Ashley!!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Congrats, Julia! Nothing better than the feeling when you type "The End".

Enjoy the feeling!


Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

This hit a nerve! I'm right there at the "will I ever finish this book?" stage. You've inspired me.

I've been hearing a lot recently about #1K/1hr - a nudge from God, perhaps?? Will have to give it a go. Congrats on reaching your goal!!!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Julia, I am still so happy for you. This is a wonderful accomplishment and I'm glad you see it that way. Working to finish a novel is hard enough, and you did it with everything else that's going on in your life, and with determination and focus. Congratulations!

Julia M. Reffner said...

@ Sue, Thanks so much! Its great for us all to have writer friends for encouragement.

@ Karen,
I totally recommend setting the goal of 1K/hour. If you're like me you might allow yourself to get stuck and waste too much time in the writing stage. I was at the point I just needed to get it written. Having someone to be accountable to (friend, husband, or whoever makes a big difference).


Thanks so much! You are such an encourager and you and the rest of the Alleymates have been such a help along the way.

Keli Gwyn said...

Breaking News for the awesome Alley Cats!

Writer’s Market editor Robert Lee Brewer published a post, Best Blogs for Writers to Read in 2012, in which he lists 39 great writing blogs. He broke the blogs into four categories. Guess which blog made it in the Blogs That Rock for Writers category? Yup. The Writers Alley!!!

Congratulations to all the Alley cats on this well-deserved honor.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

First, WOOHOO Julia!!!! Congrats on typing The End. I remember typing it out just for fun, knowing that I would have to delete it at some point. :)

Second, WOOHOO Susan on finaling in the Great Expectations contest! Congratulations!

Third, WoOHOO Alley Cats! We made a blog list!!!! How cool is that?

Julia M. Reffner said...


Thanks so much for sharing. How cool is that?


I don't blame you. Thought about writing the words myself.

Pepper said...

WAHOOO!!! Way to go, Julia.
What a great feeling and I'm so tickled God sent his little angels to you along the way to leave his footprints behind on your journey.
Could angels get any cuter than Casey?
Probably not!
Unless they're wrapped in baby skin :-)

Julia M. Reffner said...


Thanks to you, too! You've been a major encouragement to me along the way!

And yes, Casey rocks!!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Thanks, Sherrinda! And congrats to you as well! And to Carol (who comments on the Seeker site!)

What great company! I'm just thrilled to have an editor look at my work.

Best of luck to everyone!

Off to polish! And to rite a query (gulp).


PS. I'm pretty sure that the other Inpsy finalist is a published author for Harlequin!! No pressure there!

Joanne Sher said...

I've typed "the end" once. It was SOMETHING else. What a great post!