Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Writing Journey Lesson by Hope Toler Dougherty

Hope Toler Dougherty
In 2012, envy whispered into a deep, private section of my heart. Not the full-on, cat-fighting, not-you-but-me kind of jealousy. Mine was the more subdued I’m-happy-for you-I-just-want-it-too variety.

The third person in my four-person critique group signed with an agent, leaving me sitting on the sidelines. Thoughts of “Why them and not me?” and “What’s wrong with my writing?” plagued me, but I prayed through those feelings, persevering with rewriting, and reading craft books, and attending conferences.

In the spring of 2013, my twin boys were high school seniors, waiting to see what their future held.

One son already had his world rocked when West Point declined his application citing a childhood asthma diagnosis. Almost ten years of dreaming about attending a service academy were dashed in one letter.

Meanwhile, his twin still hoped to join the Long Gray Line. In early May, our congressperson called, offering him a place in the Class of 2017.

Great news, right?

Sort of.

Crazy awkwardness filled our house that night. We wanted to celebrate with Quinn who was about to step onto the path of his dreams, but we had to temper our excitement and consider the feelings of Lane who had to consider Plan B.

My sons love each other and are each other’s best friend. Lane was happy for Quinn, but he wanted the West Point experience, too.

Tough night, indeed.

Before bedtime, I went to his room and said, “Lane, I know how you feel.”

He didn’t respond verbally, but his look conveyed his thoughts. “You seriously think you know how I feel?”

I explained about being the last one to become agented, about feeling left out, not good enough. I explained I didn’t want my friends not to have agents, but I wanted one also. I knew he didn’t want to take away Quinn’s opportunity, but he wanted to go, too.

Realization that I did understand dawned on his face, and in that moment, I understood my writing journey.

God gifted me with disappointment and used it to help my son.

My writing journey was God’s journey, based on His timing. I was grateful to share my feelings with Lane, to minister to him when he needed it, to see the reason I didn’t have an agent yet.

If I never published a word, my writing journey would have been worth it because through it I helped my son through a difficult time.

That lesson took away the when-is-it-going-to-be-my-turn angst.

I attended ACFW in 2013 without the usual panic, anxiety, or dread. I anticipated more lessons instead of stressing about pitching.

And then it happened.

I signed with an agent and then signed two book contracts in 2014.

Seeing my name in print is wonderful, but one of the true treasures of this journey will always be God’s timing for acquiring my agent.

What lesson has God taught you or what unusual gift has God given you through your writing journey?
About the Author
Irish Encounter
by Hope Toler Dougherty
Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master's degree in English and taught at East Carolina University as well as York Technical College. A member of ACFW, RWA and SinC, she writes for Almost an Author. Before writing novels, she published non-fiction articles on topics ranging from gardening with children to writing apprehension. She cheers for the Pittsburgh Steelers, ACC basketball, and Army West Point Football. Hope and her husband, Kevin, live in North Carolina and chat with their two daughters and twin sons through ooVoo. Her second novel, Mars...With Venus Rising, releases with Pelican Book Group August 28th.

Visit Hope's website:

Connect with Hope:
Facebook www.facebook.com/hope.t.dougherty
Twitter Hope Toler Dougherty (@HopeTDougherty) | Twitter
Pinterest www.pinterest.com/hopetdougherty/
Goodreads www.goodreads.com/author/show/13941031.Hope_Dougherty

After almost three years of living under a fog of grief, Ellen Shepherd is ready for the next chapter in her ife, perhaps an adventure during a visit to Galway. Her idea of excitement consists of exploring Ireland for yarn to feature in her shop back home, but the adventure awaiting her includes an edgy stranger who disrupts her tea time, challenges her belief system, and stirs up feelings she thought she'd buried with her husband.


  1. Ohhhh, I adore Ireland! And I LOVE this post, Hope! What a beautiful testimony.

    God's teaching me so many lessons along this writing journey. Trust. Patience. Strength. Endurance. Flexibility. Peace.

    Congratulations on signing with an agent and your contracts, Hope.

    1. Ireland is wonderful, and I'm ready to go back. Thanks so much for your comments, Dora!

  2. Hope, our journeys were so similar. I was the last of my crit partners to get a contract. I went through the exact same envy, and learned to factor God's timing into my timeline. That remains in my top 3 advice tips I tell new writers. I'm so glad your journey ended well.

    1. Thank you, Ane. You were one of the first non-family members to encourage me (in a BRMCWC newbie email). Thank you for that and for your comment tdoay!

  3. I love learning of these times when God's plan is revealed in such a clear-cut way. Waiting is hard, but you have an experience that made it worthwhile and something you and your son will remember always! Congratulations, Hope!

    1. Yes, God was so gracious to show me the reason behind His "not yet." Thank you, Sandra!

  4. What a wonderful post, Hope and God's continued blessings upon all of you. Actually, God's gift of disappointment is still a hard one in some ways and not very clear-cut sometimes...I ended up at a publisher who absolutely killed my spirit. Yet it seems to have balanced out by two other editors who believe in me. Such a long and winding road, though. Sigh. Gorgeous cover and blurb...yup, I'm intrigued by your Irish Encounter!

    1. Yes, lessons are hard, but the cool thing is how God can use them in our life--if we let Him. Thanks so much for your comments and for your kind words about Irish Encounter!


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