Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Post #14--Hope Springs Eternal

A few weeks ago I randomly started writing the story of something horrible that happened to my writing career in the summer of 2013. This is the last post in that series. You probably won't understand the impact of this post without reading the ones that come before it. They're all really short:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 79, 10, 11, 12

(Yes, I skipped 8 and 13 on purpose because they don't relate to the story. Also, #1 doesn't really contain story stuff, but it's teeny, and it's the post that got this ball rolling.)


One of the stages of grief is anger.

We grieve at death. We grieve at illness. We also grieve at profound loss.

As this amazing opportunity fell through, and the dream slipped through my fingers, my anger was piercing and went only one direction: towards God.

One of the things I often tell my clients is that it's okay to feel angry at God. We have to process through our feelings, not push them away. If we hide from our true emotions, they always catch up with us in ways we regret. They make themselves known. We have to be brave and look at our emotions, even when they're uncomfortable. Even when they're directed towards Deity. "He's God," I tell my clients. "He can take it. And He already knows how you feel anyway."

Because of this, I gave myself permission to just feel the anger. I allowed myself to take a really good look at it--to stare it down, and not be afraid of it. I looked it in the eye, unflinching.

It was all about betrayal.

It went something like this:

After all I've done. After the ways I've shown Him my devotion. After all those personal, moving moments of allegiance that only He understands. After all He knows about me, and what makes me me, and what my life is, and the things I dream of, and . . . everything I am. After all of this, He intentionally sets up a scenario to crush my dreams? I hadn't even asked to write a memoir. It just happened to me. The only reason I was doing it was because He wanted me to. He had set this whole thing up, out of nowhere. Viral post. Agent. Memoir. I had nothing to do with it. I had been trying to break in with a novel. This was never my idea, nor my intention. It had come from outside of myself.

This is not my first experience with pain. I've felt plenty of pain in my life. I've gone through hard things. Really hard things. But this felt personal. It felt to me as if He'd orchestrated the whole thing, made it as plump and ripe and ready to be plucked from the vine as possible--made it look like my fondest dreams were about to come true, within inches, within minutes, one email away--for no other discernible reason than to watch me writhe in agony as it all violently crashed to to ground.

I couldn't figure out why.

Why is often the crucial question, isn't it? The thing that keeps us up at night wondering. Sometimes we get an answer, and sometimes we get to wait, and sometimes we get nothing but silence.

In this case, the answer, after a year-and-a-half, has come in waves. It's arrived in a pastiche of experiences, like any really good answer does. And I don't have the complete answer, yet. But I have parts of it.


At first, I was so angry I didn't even want an answer. I resented there being an answer. An "answer" felt so cliche, so reductive. "Well, such and such horrible thing happened, but it's okay now because look at all the lessons I learned! Look at how it made things all better! Look at how it led to the right things, the magic path, the yellow-brick road! Look, look! Look at how I've justified this tragedy and failure and assimilated it into the context of my story! Look how good I am at controlling my own narrative!"

I wanted none of it. I was bitter, and didn't want it to mean anything.

But those pesky brains we have--they just find meaning and come to understanding regardless.

The first and perhaps most important epiphany wormed its way through my rebellion the night we got that final email from our agent. The one with all the "passes" on the submission list.

Finally, all the hope was dashed. I had been clinging to that hope. There had always been a chance that one of the submissions would come through until that email. Until our agent said "enough." In that moment, the excitement died. The hope was shattered. A dream was totally crushed.

It. wasn't. going. to. happen.

What followed that crushing blow was a very interesting sequence of emotions. I was lying in my bed, letting the shock of the finality wash over me. I felt like a dinged bell. As the finality settled in, I felt disappointment and profound sadness, or course. But below that, bubbling under the surface, I also felt shame. I felt shame as if I'd done something wrong, or as if I had something to be embarrassed about. I felt a feeling of humilliation, a sense of "what if people find out about my failure." There was an immediate impulse to feel like what had just happened was a reflection on me. That the rejection of my book was a sign that I was deficient.

Once I caught myself having thoughts of shame, of wanting to hide, I knew what I'd done. Not only had I been excited to watch this dream come true--not only had I felt the thrill of the opportunity to do with my life what I knew I was meant to do--but I had also let this potential success begin to affect my assessment of myself. I hadn't seen it happening--its onset was very gradual--but I could suddenly, in the dim light of failure, see that I had started to feel elite, or special, or somehow of more worth because of this dream that seemed to be being realized. I felt like that said something about me. That it had bearing on who I was. That it affected my feelings of worth as a human being.

So, its absence also felt like it affected my worth as a human being.

In that moment, I experienced an epiphany. It's the kind of epiphany that illustrates a truth we know conceptually, but in a way that we can actually feel. It might sound ridiculously simple, but I assure you it has informed much of my life since then. I realized in that moment that my intrinsic worth had not changed. Or more accurately, I realized that my worth was no different having been rejected by every major US publisher than it would have been if I had sold my book in a major deal.

My worth was exactly the same either way. It did not change. Not even a little bit. The realization was so powerful I found myself whispering the words in amazement. "My worth has not changed. I'm worth the exact same." Eureka!

The realization broadened. My worth did not change because of . . . anything! It did not shift because of what I did or didn't do, or what I contributed to the world! It did not change when I failed miserably! I was worth the exact same that morning as I had been the morning after my birth. I was worth the exact same the day I got an email saying my project had miserably failed as I had been the day my agent had so excitedly proclaimed that this project could be a huge success.

I was worth the exact same in that moment as I had been when I'd made horrid, brutal mistakes. I was worth the exact same in that moment as I had been in the moments I'd experienced personal triumphs. None of that--the stuff, the outer layers, the accomplishments, the awards, the mistakes, the errors--changed my worth in the slightest.

My worth was static.

This realization was breathtaking. I finally got it.

And I got it, in part, because of the seriousness of the failure I had just experienced. It was only in a moment of true dejection that I could still feel my worth--brimming under the surface, breathing, existing, thumping with the beat of my heart--and know that it had not changed. That nothing--not even the most grandiose triumphs or the most degrading tragedies could change it.

It just was. And it is for everybody. This whole idea of intrinsic worth was real! And everybody had it! And it was beautiful! I said the words aloud to myself again: "My worth has not changed. It is exactly the same."

And then I immediately sank back down to despair and anger. Because that's how humans work.


I woke up the next morning feeling wretched.

I was going to a huge training on sex addiction. I'd paid a lot of money for this training. It was the third of four modules I needed to become a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, so I couldn't skip it.

And would you believe it--those days of training were pretty much a sequence of exercises meant to help me understand what had just happened to me. I spent the entire time feeling annoyed at each major realization. Combined with the epiphany I'd had the night of the email, this training expanded my understanding of so many things--my career, my life, myself--and lots of different little things, too personal and minute to chronicle here. Suffice it to say that at the end of the training, I was really pissed off.

I was mad because I didn't want what happened to help me understand things. I wanted to feel bitter. I wanted to be angry. I wanted to wallow. I wanted to be mad and immature and childish, and to stomp my feet and yell about how unfair things were. (And for the record, there's nothing wrong with doing any of those things in the aftermath of a trauma.)

At the end of the training, during the last day, they passed around a mic and had us share what we had gotten out of the training. I didn't want to do it. I decided I'd pass, or say something really bland like "I learned so much. Thanks for the opportunity," and pass the mic. Maybe with an eye-roll.

Instead, when I got the mic, for some unknown reason I just got real. I told everyone that I was bitter, and that I didn't want to have learned anything that week. I mentioned briefly what had happened the day before the training started--agent, hope, rejection and my profound disappointment--and admitted that I hadn't wanted to learn anything, or have anything make sense. I hadn't even wanted to come. I admitted that I was angry and resentful. But I also admitted that that experience had allowed me to learn a lot--to see things in the training with a new lens, almost like it was supposed to have been that way. And in closing, I admitted that that fact really pissed me off.

When I finished talking, I looked around and there was a silence. People were crying. Somehow, what I had said had moved people, which was funny because I still felt cold and bitter in my heart.

And then, like a gift, for the remainder of the day I had people--perfect strangers from all over the country--coming up to me saying things like "I could feel God whisper to me that you're not supposed to give up on that dream--don't let that setback stop you" and "you aren't done yet. You need to keep going," and "this is just the beginning of your journey. You can't give up. It will work if you keep going." One lady wrote a list of famous books that had been rejected by major publishers before becoming classics and at the bottom wrote "do not give up!" These people were feeling what I couldn't, in that moment, feel: that the rejection wasn't the end. That I was supposed to keep going somehow.

I couldn't understand what they were saying then--it largely fell on deaf ears. But I remember it all now. And I believe they were right.


Another major shift happened a month or so later. I was sitting in a therapy session--my own therapy session (any therapist worth his or her salt sees their own therapist, imho)--and I was trying to process all of this. I was trying to process the anger. I was still trying to discover the "why." I had experienced tragedy before. I'd faced many challenges that were brutal and unfair. But this one grated on me. Why had this happened? Why had it even been necessary? Why, if it wasn't going to work out in the first place, could I not have just been left alone? Why the set-up? The leading on? The Godly signature, as if He wanted me to be sure I knew it was him before He burned it all to the ground.

I just didn't get it.

My counselor said something that took my anger and focused it, like a laser beam, hot and burning. "Well, maybe God did this to teach you a lesson," he tossed out.

How half-baked! How utterly pathetic an attempt to explain God's motivation! "No!" I raised my voice "I don't accept that. I don't accept that God would do that. God knows me. He already knows that I would do anything He asked me to. I've proved that over and over and over. To set up some scenario like this--dangling carrot of my fondest vocational dreams and then snatching it away tauntingly in order to teach me some life lesson about obedience or faith or His will or timing or whatever--is just . . . mean. That is not the God I know. The God I know loves. He is kind. That would not be kind." I was livid. My counselor didn't know quite what to do."Either God had another, better reason than to 'teach me a lesson,'" I concluded,  "or He doesn't exist."

There it was. That binary was the truth. I could feel it clearly: it was one or the other. And I knew of God's love for me because of a billion experiences in my life, collectively. I knew He was there . . . ergo . . .

I suddenly realized that I hadn't considered a certain possibility.

There was a reason this happened.

There was a reason this happened that had nothing to do with teaching me a lesson. 

It all started coming into focus.

It wasn't about me. It wasn't about my learning. This had happened for another reason. Sixteen major publishers had all experienced a confused, tepid response to a book that would have made them a lot of money being proffered by an agent they trusted. Wasn't that a little odd? Wasn't that unusual? We were about to be on TV at the time, and these publishers are in a business. They want to make money. Wasn't it odd that they all, for different reasons--and basically no solid reason at all--said no to this proposal that would have been, as some of them pointed out, something of a sensation that garnered a lot of attention? That would have made them money?

Isn't that… meaningful?

Memories started filtering in, and I started looking at truths I had been ignoring. Conflicts Lolly and I had had as we worked on the proposal. The feeling of never-quite-hitting-the-mark. I thought of my own lukewarm feelings about the manuscript. The secret dread I felt at, after it was purchased, having to finish it the way we had it outlined. My lack of connection to what we were proposing. Feeling disconnected from it. Feeling a little embarrassed by it. I remembered one time sitting down to write late in the process. I ended up writing a crucial scene that we hadn't even included in the outline of our proposal. A scene that would have taken the book a totally different direction, and that related to the crux of our story. At the time I thought "well, I guess I can't include that." But now it suddenly seemed so obvious that I had to.

This wasn't about me. It was about the book itself!

The book wasn't right. The book, itself, was off!


Of course it was Zina.

Months passed. We did nothing. The trauma was too recent. The pain was too potent.

We convalesced.

We would sometimes half-heartedly toss around thoughts. We'd discuss how things hadn't been right with the book. How maybe we weren't supposed to still do this, or maybe we were. How maybe it all failed so we could start over and get it right. How maybe that's why it happened.

The thought of starting from scratch felt like a kick in the gut.

It was too painful. Even though deep within us both, we knew that this wasn't over, we both kinda told ourselves it was. For a while we tried to believe that the kibosh meant we were off the hook. After all, what had happened over that summer was a pretty clear message. Maybe none of it was right. Maybe we could let this dream die, lick our wounds, and move on.

Then Zina, who had so helped us over a year before even get started on the project, called. "I'm going to a retreat on Whidbey Island," she explained. "Can I stay with you before and after?"

We were thrilled to have her. And she was such a delight. Our girls loved her, and she lulled them to sleep telling them stories of the Tudor Dynasty and trying to explain to Anna how beheading worked. She took us to breakfast, and we took her to the ferry, and the girls loved watching the choppy waves as we accompanied her to the island. Eventually, on our drive back from picking her up from the retreat, she asked the question: "how's the memoir coming?"

We hemmed and hawed. "Oh, well, we're still a little shell shocked by what happened. So I'm working on my novel again," I said. "And . . . we're not even sure if we're supposed to write the memoir anymore. It seems like God might have been telling us to give up." Zina nodded, sagely. And then with a slight touch of that's so cute she told us like it is. "I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you guys aren't gonna get out of this. What happened over the summer isn't an excuse to quit. Every project hits bumps. Every worthwhile book hits a snag." We both nodded. "You are supposed to write this. Pray about it, sure. Get the feeling back. But I'm telling you, you are supposed to write this book. Nobody else can."

The words rang true.


Lolly and I were sitting in our living room, across from each other. We had fasted and prayed and we were trying to decide what to do about the book. We'd come together, sharing our thoughts.

"I feel like we're supposed to do it," Lolly said. And I agreed. I'd had the exact same feelings. That this wasn't over yet. That this book needed to get out there.

But how.

We talked about various options. Should I write it alone? Should Lolly write it alone? How could we attack this topic in a better way than we already had? We had had discussions like this many times before. We knew we needed to get back into the book somehow. We needed to find a way back into the material that worked.

But this time, with our hearts and minds focused on God's will, the conversation produced an idea that made us both stop in our tracks.

We could both feel it.  "That's it. That's it!" we said.

Because of that insight (which I can't share yet publicly), I could suddenly see the entire book, laid out before me. It was an idea that unified the book, simplified its premise, focused it so perfectly on what we actually wanted to say that it felt as if it always should have been this way.

It was perfect.

And still totally unwritten.


Starting a book for the second time is incredibly daunting.

I just couldn't get into it. Lolly was able to launch in. She just followed her gut. She wrote 20-30,000 words over the course of a couple of months, while I got nowhere.

Eventually I realized I was trigger shy. Even though we had had our epiphany, I was still sensitive. I was traumatized, and worried that if I didn't "start it right" we might have to scrap it all again and start over. Those kinds of fears are death for an artist.

So… I just kept not starting. I kept doubting the thing we'd felt. I kept wondering if Lolly's fluidity of thought meant that she was supposed to write this--that it needed to be from her perspective and I needed to just step aside, assassinate my pride and dreams, and let the process happen.

Lolly assured me that wasn't the case, but I still wondered.

I wrestled spiritually. I sought a signal that this was what I was supposed to do. I resisted, not out of belligerence or rebellion, but just out of fear. I wasn't sure I could take the disappointment again. I wasn't sure if I could handle it.

And then I had another conversation with Zina. She called me one evening, now about five months after what had happened that summer. We chit-chatted. We discussed some of the projects she was working on. We talked about our families. And then near the end of the conversation as if to test her, or to test God, I asked her: "Zina, if I'm going to jump into this again, it needs to be right. What should my approach be? What's the angle I need to take on this project? How do I make it different this time?"

She thought for a moment and then said a sentence that blew me away. She said it simply, clearly, and concisely. It was the exact approach Lolly and I had come up with. I couldn't believe she had just said it--as in I actually questioned her about it. "Zina, seriously, had I told you what we were thinking?" I asked. "Did you just come up with that?"

She assured me I had never said a word to her about it.

And there, I realized, was my signal.

So I finally started writing.


That is where I find myself today. 2/3rds of the way into the manuscript, fighting every single day to get this thing done, and done right.

It's hard. And terrifying.

I wish I could say that I orchestrated this whole blog-story so that I could tell you that everything is resolved. I wish I could tell you that I knew that there was a happy ending to this story, and that all of the fight and struggle and pain and disappointment has been worth it because of some cool thing that is happening.

Instead, I'm bringing you, en media res, directly into the part that's hardest. The part where I start to question what I'm doing. The part where I start to wonder if I'll ever make it to the finish line. I'm a marathoner at mile 21. I try to write every day. I work hard. I pour myself into this thing hour after hour after hour. This is the part that nobody sees. This is the part of a book that nobody gets to witness. The author, as the book is wrapping up, trying to get everything in order. Trying to get the final chapters done. Trying to battle his doubts.

I have a lot of doubts. I have doubts in myself. I have doubts in how I've presented manuscript. But the one thing I do know for certain--the thing that serves as part of the "why" for all that happened in the summer of 2013--is that this book, as it stands, is exactly the message God wants me to send out into the world. Unlike the first manuscript, this one feels right. It contains important truths. And there are people I have encountered from time to time who, when I've heard their story, something whispered your book is for him or you are writing that section for her. And even if this book affects only those few people, it is worth it to me.

I have no idea how it will fair commercially.

I have no idea if it will be published, or if we'll self publish.

I have no idea who will read it.

But I know I need to get it out there. If but for a few people who need hear the things that Lolly and I have to say, I need to get this book completed and out into the world.

And I want you all to be along for the ride.

A couple days ago, on my walk, the final paragraphs of this post came to me and I stopped. I stood there typing it on my phone in the freezing weather on a small trail near my office, near where I got that first email of excitement from my former agent nearly two years ago. It feels so long ago! And yet, the battle rages on.

If this book succeeds, you'll have a front row seat. You will see a miracle. You will see the answer to the question "why?" and the answer will be neat and tidy and satisfying. You'll know that there is reason for everything. You'll see His hand in this, and it will all make sense. So much sense.

And if I fail, you also have a front row seat. You'll be a witness. You'll know that sometimes miracles look like repeated failure. That sometimes the answer is confusion and disappointment. And you'll see that when I was knocked down, I got up to be knocked down again. You'll see that I was fearless, and that as I was stepped on and crushed, my sparks made a brilliant light in the night sky.

And that's what living IS.


  1. I am looking forward to reading your story. :)

  2. I believe in you whole heartedly. I can't say anything that you haven't already said but we need to read your book. It's a testament to me that because of all the difficulty and the struggle you've experienced that this book will be incredibly influential. I'm excited for it and will be sending prayers for you to write it as authentically and with the vision you have. God bless you.

  3. This just took my breath away. I can't wait to read this book.

  4. Amazing. You guys are so brave & honest. I have been reading, hoping it turns out well, since this began & I can't wait to see how it ends. I hope it ends in such a way that even over here in England, I get to read your book! And congratulations on the baby announcement! Really exciting!!!! :)

  5. Beautiful! I will hold the hard copy in my hand and be so happy for you and Lolly!

  6. "but I had also let this potential success begin to affect my assessment of myself."

    Amen, Josh. Isn't that always the crux of it? I so identify with your feelings of shame, etc. What is it about being rejected that makes us feel like failures? Rejection comes from the *other* person, not us. And God never rejects us.

    I am seriously so happy reading this. So, so happy. Keep it up. Break through the brick wall. You'll do it. I'm excited to experience this, that you've allowed me (and the rest of us) in on something that is clearly very special, and very important.

    1. I'm sure you noticed my tiny, secret shout-out to you ;-)

  7. << will pay for a front row ticket to your successful book launch... hoping that your "weedsters" get first chance to buy it!

  8. Yay can't wait until you finish it! I am so excited to read it!

  9. This is a wonderful post. Thank you for writing it. I'm working a book (a novel actually) that I strongly believe God is calling me to write. So this was something I needed to read.

    I am looking forward to buying and reading your book!

  10. I've already bought three copies in my head.

  11. I really needed to hear that there is a reason for your dreams being repeatedly and painfully crushed over and over and over again. That maybe God isn't punishing me despite my efforts to follow him, but preparing me for something better than I can imagine. Thank you.

  12. I love when you get "real." :)
    Looking forward to reading it.

  13. I've been anticipating your memoir ever since you first mentioned that you were writing one. I'm so excited that Lolly is writing it with you! And it's fun knowing the story behind it as I did wonder what sparked your interest in writing a memoir when you were working on your novel. I'm sorry its been such a rough journey for you, but your faith, as always, is so reassuring. I'm glad you came to the conclusion that God is not "a mean kid with a magnifying glass," to quote Bruce Almighty, and I'm glad that you didnt doubt His existence. Your book is going to be amazing, and even if you do end up self publishing it, it'll still fulfill its purpose, but I have a feeling you won't have to.

  14. There are so many truths in this post. So much I needed to hear. Thank you!

  15. What about Deseret Publishing?
    I really resonated with the part about self-worth being intrinsic and static. Definitely what I need to hear.

  16. I've been following your blog off and on since that viral post. You catch the attention of others because you have a unique story to tell that shows the beauty of God's truth. His strength upholds you for a purpose that is being fulfilled whether in this book or not. God bless you for waking with Him and reflecting Him and His truth to a world that needs it so very much. You cannot fail with the Lord. He only wants you to trust Him.

  17. I rarely ever comment on blog posts of any kind, but I felt like I needed to thank you for this one directly. You don't know me. I have subscribed to your blog since the Club Unicorn post blew me away over two years ago, and soul-baring posts like this one keep me reading. Your writing makes me feel like I know you, and reminds me that there are plenty of people in this world that I would probably count as close friends if we actually spent time together. Knowing people like you and Lolly are out there in the trenches inspires me to get out of my insular relationship comfort zone, and really see the people around me that I am either ignoring completely or missing out on truly befriending. The world seems a little bit better when I read The Weed. That may not seem like much, but I am confident that there are thousands of readers who could ditto this comment. Most of them won't actually ditto this comment because, like me, they just don't do that sort of thing much. But they COULD, and that's the bigger picture I'm trying to paint here: what you write matters. It makes a meaningful difference, and the effects ripple outward in tiny positive ways that potentially reach very far. Your blog does that, your memoir will do that, and so will the other books you write. So keep writing, Weeds. The Quiet Weeders thank you.

    1. ditto to the second power :-). And the message about self worth being static no matter what success or failure befalls?....Priceless.

    2. Another ditto here! He said it better than I could have.

    3. I almost wrote this whole post myself but mine would have come out much more badly spelled and poorly written. I add my own resounding ditto to this. Thank you Weeds! And thank you Palmtwi for this response!

    4. Ditto! Couldn't have said it better myself.

    5. Ditto. I wish I could have said it as well as that.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Beautiful! You are one awesome couple!

  20. Thank you so much for sharing this journey. I'm excited to hear the finale.

  21. I say self-publish away. Get it exactly how you want it with some help from above and just get it out there. I'm excited to buy your book in whatever format it ends up in. Love your writing.

  22. If all other options fail, I think this series of posts proves you already have a perfect medium to share your story.

  23. This is literature. It's the kind of literature that pulls me in completely--the kind that makes me thirst for more content. I believe that you are right Josh. It doesn't matter what happens with your memoir, when it comes to your worth. You are worth every bit of energy spent on this, your memoir, regardless of what happens with it. Your and Lolly's story is worth every second of every agent's, editor's, publisher's, and reader's time.

    I love you both and can barely wait to read more.

  24. I cannot wait to hold your book in my hands, wrap up in a blanket, settle on the couch in my "space" and read until I come to "the end". Keep the faith - we are all pulling for you and KNOW this will be a success no matter where it lands.

  25. Fantastic. The whole endeavour will be so much more powerful if it is driven by you and Lolly and has the integrity which will be born of that.
    (On another note - I have a friend who has written an LDS children's book which is shortly to be published. She would love to give you (and Anna, Viva and Tessa) an advance copy in the hope of an endorsement. May I give her your details?)

  26. I will read it. Because you are a fantastic writer. Because you and Lolly are beautiful people.

  27. Just like one of the comments further up, I have been a follower of your blog since your viral post. I tell my family and friends about you, they think you are just one more friend I stay in touch with.
    Regarding our front row seat, I would love to pre-order a personalized copy. However, with four daughters (which will be the case then!), I'll understand if you have to skip the personalization.
    I kept thinking of my best friend, who is going through a crisis of faith, as well. You are having your fourth child, she can't even get pregnant with number one. However, everybody has their trials and answers in their own areas. I will tell her of my long distance friends Josh and Lolly. Thank you so very much for sharing your pain and being so honest about it.

  28. I asked why once, on my mission. The answer was a resounding "why not?" Oh snap, why not, indeed. It was a bitter pill, but I needed it.

  29. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this and for writing this blog. It has helped me connect and support my husband in his work and validate his worth. I love your story. I love your writing and the spirit and insight you bring into my life. Thank you.

  30. Thanks for letting us know about this! I am proud of you for trying again regardless of the outcome.

  31. From the moment you started this blog series, I knew you would be finishing this book. I am so touched by your honesty and the way you follow through with promptings. I am grateful to you and your family for listening to what Heavenly Father wants you to do! I'm praying for you, keep up the hard work!

  32. I had a similar experience about 7 years ago. I felt like the Lord was guiding my actions and circumstances to help me accomplish a dream. It seemed too perfect! Felt so right. Then, it blew up in my face. Dream crushed. Beyond my control. I have not yet found the resolution you have. I feel like it's put a wedge in my relationship with God. This story helps bouy up my faith. Thanks for sharing.

  33. P.S. For what it's worth. Your writing has improved and it shows in these posts. :-)

  34. I'm sorry, I laughed almost all the way through posts 1-14 (but not 8 or 13--congrats to baby #4!). I had almost the exact same thing happen to me--minus viral blogging and the legit agent. I wrote a novel. I even worked to get it to Hollywood... Hollywood! Well at the moment I'm lying face down in the dirt with no idea how to market or publicize the thing. =) i completely identify with your feelings and I think that I have said the same things to those who would listen. I now consider you my "book friend" and I hope we can stay in touch.
    Warmest wishes for your success!

  35. Thank you for writing this. I feel like your "worth" moment was something I was sent to the blog to read, for myself. I had a big/trauma a few years back that changed completely the way I saw and felt about myself. While I knew my worth was the same, today I FELT it and really knew. I felt it straight from God through your words. Thank you.

  36. Josh, I think you would like "The War of Art" by Stephen Pressfield. It is about the war you have with "resistance" when you create something beautiful.

  37. There's a phrase in a Richard G. Scott talk that really stuck with me: "The Lord is intent on your personal growth and development. That progress is accelerated when you willingly allow Him to lead you through every growth experience you encounter, whether initially it be to your individual liking or not."

    I have talked about this with my husband a lot, and I don't mean to make Heavenly Father sound heartless, but I don't think He cares about fairness or even irony. Only our response. Only our development. I think He does that because of the blink-i-ness of this existence. It's just so temporary.

    Your blog, just as it is, has been something I look forward to. It is because of your and Lolly's goodness, optimism, kindness, and faithfulness. But it is also because of your writing! Keep up the good work, I'll be reading the book!

    1. I like this👍. Especially the word "blink-I-ness" :-).

  38. Thank you for sharing such powerful truth about finding worth. This is something I wish my kids, my husband, the girls I teach at church, and even I, myself, understood better. Beautiful. Thank you.

  39. Can't wait to read the book. It's going to be epic. And a best-seller. All our love!

  40. Thank you so much for sharing this. Right now I am writing a book on healing through the power of the atonement. This post couldn't make it any more obvious that the time is now to write this book. I will pray for you and Lolly that the book will move forward. Trusting fully in the Lord means trusting in His timing. Though it's tough sometimes the blessings and fruits of it are incredible.

  41. I admire your openness and honesty as you have shared this experience with your readers. I look forward to reading your book. You are both amazing people. I love how you help and encourage each other.

  42. As a writer struggling (in just about every sense of that word), I appreciate the front row seat. Even if I never take the opportunity to read the book, reading the backstory of its creation has added to other experiences I had in December that have helped me understand more of my purpose in life. So, thanks for this.

  43. Your last two paragraphs brought me to tears. They tipped the scales on a few ideas I have been mulling over, being to scared to start. Dare greatly.

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
    ― Theodore Roosevelt

  44. You don't know me, but I, too, found your blog when your "Club Unicorn" post went viral. Reading your blog posts of late has been very entertaining. :) (Several months ago, I wondered what was going on since you hadn't blogged consistently for a while.) I believe you are definitely supposed to publish your memoir—I feel it will make a grand impact on our world for the better! :)
    P.S. You've had me on the edge of my seat with your recent posts! I really wish you were already finished with your book, but I will be patient. :)

  45. Josh and Lolly, we love you guys. I have complete faith and confidence that in x amount of time, I'll be discussing your book with my book club, basking in the glory of counting the authors among my personal friends. Take that, Orson Scott Card's niece! So get writing, Josh!

  46. Oh, gosh, Josh--- (Ha, that rhymed)

    I wish I had words to convey just what I'm feeling right now. I recently had a pretty crushing blow of my own (it happened yesterday, in fact), and to read your words tonight is incredibly healing to me. You speak truth, Josh. You share God's messages with courage and conviction, and although you're in mile 21 and doubting why you ever wanted to run in the first place, that finish line is going to be absolutely glorious.

    And I promise to be there, cheering you on with all of the enthusiasm I can possibly muster.

    I just wish there was some way I could tell you how profoundly and powerfully you have changed my life.

  47. You two are the best. Thanks for sharing--our family is rooting for you!

  48. Take it from me, a fellow author: if you weren"t going through this much angst, you would not be a "real" writer-----nor a "real" Saint. Blessings upon you and Lolly. There are many praying for you and cheering you on. The fruit will be worth it indeed!

  49. I feel brave! I'm on board and have my seat belt fastened! I'm so grateful to be along on your ride... bumpy or dangerous! I need what you have to say! Feeling great love for you both and your girls!

  50. Sold!!! I will read your book!!! I'm so very much looking forward to it.

    Also, I sort of like having these weird, messy mysteries from God. They're so painful, but it reminds me that life isn't perfect or neat or tidy or answered or logical. And when we start expecting every question to have an answer or every experience to have a "why" we start to run into dissatisfaction.

  51. Thank you for your honesty about your anger and struggle with God after your disappointment. It shows that even the most devoted have struggles with God and it is completely normal and doesn't mean you don't love him.

  52. I thought of you as I read this interview with Freeman Dyson about his favorite books.

    "“Disturbing the Universe” was my first book and the most personal. I put my heart and soul into it. Most people who write memoirs wait until it is too late, when old age has dulled their feelings and blurred their memories. I was lucky to write my memoirs halfway through my life, when memories were fresh and feelings still raw."


    So you're in good company, writing your memoir while it's fresh and raw. :)