It’s done. I’m back. Happy Mardi Gras!

February 21, 2012 | 61 comments

IT’S DONE!!!!! Three weeks ago I had resigned myself to the fact that it was impossible. There was too much left to write, and too little time left in which to write it. I asked a bunch of people to pray that I could get this thing completed, and then a crazy thing happened: the words just started flowing. I started churning out word-per-hour ratios that should not be humanly possible. And in the end, not only did I have time to finish it, but I even had extra time to go back and finish a few problems with the beginning. Typing the period on the last sentence at the end, a day ahead of deadline, was one of the more surreal experiences I’ve ever had. (If you’re new and have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read about the book I’ve been working on here.)

For the last few weeks I had this prayer card taped to my computer monitor so that I couldn’t see the word count, since the number kept stressing me out. I’d grabbed the first one found in my desk drawer, and laughed when I realized I’d chosen the Hail Mary. Obviously it was an appropriate prayer for the occasion, but I loved the reference to a “Hail Mary” in the sense of an insane, long-shot attempt that only has a slim chance of success.

The draft turned out well. Better than I could have hoped for, actually. (I guess that’s the advantage of having written it twice before). All along, my goal has been to write something that will leave the reader saying, “That was good. That was fun. I feel a little bit more alive for having read that.” I’m pretty sure this draft accomplishes that.

So what’s next? Allow me to use some bad clipart to elucidate the process for you:

Book Publishing Process

That’s how it’s supposed to go. However, that is not my impression of how it actually works.Β I’ve come to see it not as a linear process that ends in a finished product, but rather as a Sisyphean wheel, a mystical circle of endless work designed to teach me about humility, detachment, and the ultimate futility of the labors of man.

Book Publishing Process

I’m going to revise it and then will send it off to my agent in a few weeks. We’ll see which flowchart turns out to be accurate this time.

Anyway, tonight’s Mardi Gras promises to be one for the ages, considering that we’ll be celebrating both the last day of Ordinary Time and the end of my toil on this book. I have one day to let loose in between book writing and Lent, and I plan to make it count.

What’s been going on with you? What are your plans for tonight, and what do you plan to do for Lent?


  1. Ruth Ann

    All I can say, Jennifer, is C.O.N.G.R.A.T.U.L.A.T.I.O.N.S! What a wonderful achievement! Praise the Lord!

  2. Lindsey

    Congratulations Jen! What an accomplishment! Enjoy Mardi Gras. πŸ˜€

  3. nancyo

    Welcome back, Jen! Your blog hasn’t been the same without you (obviously!) but I’m thrilled that you were able to finish your manuscript, and early at that. You’ve definitely earned some cutting loose! I’ll be on a plane for most of Fat Tuesday but I’ve certainly covered the feasting part lately and am actually craving a little Lenten fast. And you’re back here just in time for me to give up the internet for Lent, or at least I’m seriously considering giving up large swaths of it.

  4. MommaOz

    Congratulations! What a HUGE accomplishment – and the perfect Hail Mary finish!

  5. Mary @ St Henry II

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! So glad you actually got it finished! Have a great time tonight!

  6. Michelle

    Congratulations! Your word of “surreal” was the same word I was thinking as I read that you finished! Enjoy Mardi Gras!

  7. elizabeth

    Yea for you, Jen!! Can barely wait to read it. I seem to be stuck in the second flow chart, but you give me inspiration to break the cycle. Happy Fat Tuesday!

    PS-When are you going to catch up on Downton?

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Oooh, great question. Are there archived episodes online anywhere?

      • christy

        This season can be found at – past season is free for amazon prime members. Welcome back.

  8. Meredith

    Truly a day to celebrate! So happy for you, Jen.

  9. Theresa in Alberta

    let us know when your book is ready for preordering eh! πŸ˜‰ congratulations…….

  10. Jenny

    I am so happy for you that you met your goal and have finished writing!

    Enjoy Fat Tuesday! We will be celebrating Ben’s birthday a day early.

  11. Carolina

    Congratulations! So glad to hear that it’s done..yeah!

  12. Dan Lord

    I particularly like the fat kid eating spaghetti as he contemplates his unworthiness.

  13. Anne

    Woohoo! Happy Mardi Gras!

    LOVE the word count-blocking Hail Mary, and the bad clip art. Can’t wait to hear the continuing saga (and, of course, can’t wait to actually read this thing!)

  14. Colleen

    Congratulations! To have completed such a big project like that… it must be awesome. Now I hope it is published soon because the anticipation is killing me! I can’t wait to read it!

  15. Kristin

    Congratulations! Love the clip art! Made me laugh!

    I thought’s website had older Downton Abbey episodes archived to watch. Netflix carries the first season and I would guess they would the second season too sometime in the future.

  16. Patrick

    Is that a Vista box? I thought you Ubuntued?

  17. Moira

    Dear Jen,
    Praise God! I am so so so happy for you! I look forward to saying so in person @ the Behold Conference!

    Sending you a squeeze, Guardian Angel Express!


  18. Kelly

    Downton can be watched here––I think until March 6. It’s been an insanely great season! (one thing I am NOT giving up for Lent–I give up TV, but watch Worst Cooks and now Downton on Sunday nights).

    Congrats on the book and hope the cycle is less frustrating than it could be πŸ™‚

  19. Diapeepees

    I can’t tell you how many times I thought of you bent over your computer typing away with children circling you, demanding their lunch…this and I barely know you! However, I can almost relate — except for the fact that I never have written a book because of it’s sheer magnitude. I, have, however worked to overly perfect paragraphs, with kids circling and demanding breakfast. Oh, how I don’t think I could ever do page after page without imploding, and then having my kids dance over my foresaken body….so congrats to you.

  20. Nicole

    Jen, I don’t often comment, but I can just feel your excitement and relief, and I wanted to say CONGRATULATIONS!! I can not wait to read this book! Have a wonderful Mardi Gras. πŸ™‚

  21. Laura

    Congratulations on a HUGE accomplishment. Praise God that it ended so well (or at least this part of it!) I can’t wait for the finished product!!! Enjoy your party day.
    God Bless

  22. Jen G


    I’m so happy for you!! I can’t wait to read it.

  23. Leanne Shawler

    Congrats on the draft finish! I know how it feels when words just flow out, it *is* kinda surreal and magical … at least until your husband comes home and asks you what’s for dinner … and then you remember you were supposed to be starting the meal you planned half an hour ago…. but other than that, it’s cool.

    Lent: I’m teaching social media to my church, I’ll be reading Paula Huston’s new book as a devotional/practice … and if I can get to Lauds more than one Saturday this Lent it will be a miracle….

  24. Tienne McKenzie

    Ah, Jen!!! Congratulations! I am so so so so happy and excited about the book being done. It’s a huge achievement, even if more drafts are needed, and one that I am sure was guided by our Lord’s hand. I’m even happier because it means you’ll be posting again.


  25. Tiffani

    I feel ya. I’m with you. You did it, and you’ll do it again:)

  26. Catholic Bibliophagist

    Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! By contrast, Lent should be a peaceful season.

    I wish I knew exactly what I was doing for Lent, but for Mardi Gras we are going to see “The Secret World of Arrietty” this morning. (Showings before noon are much cheaper.) Since we go to movies about once every two years, this is a big deal.


  27. Kara

    YAY! Welcome back! Happy Mardi Gras! We are celebrating by going to a Rick Santorum rally, lol.

  28. Stephanie

    Happy Mardi Gras Jen! CONGRATS!!!

    Also, amazed that you had time to create bad clipart flow charts. πŸ˜› They are genius. Way to go.

  29. Elizabeth K.

    Well done!! Congratulations!!!! Eat some pancakes!!!!!!

  30. Kayla @ The alluring world

    Woohoo! So glad that you met your deadline and are now able to enjoy Mardi Gras!

  31. Sheila

    Congrats – that is wonderful! I am SO glad that you are back πŸ™‚

    We celebrated Mardi Gras this morning with Paczki – Polish pastries for Fat Tuesday – they are like jelly donuts but better. Tonight we’ll enjoy jambalaya along with my last beer before Lent begins!

    My husband and I are going meatless for Lent (we already eat a ton of rice & beans so it’s not as drastic as it sounds), and I am giving up alcohol – but my main focus for Lent is to grow in patience and battle against frustration. I am a new mom and even though I have an extremely easy baby (sleeps great, not colicky, etc.) I am not very good at handling it when the baby wants me to attend to her and I want to do my own thing (wash the dishes, make dinner, do laundry, have a prayer time, etc.) I’ve yelled at the poor thing more times than I’d like to admit, and I would like to get control of that before she gets old enough to create *memories* of me yelling at her!

    If anyone has recommendations of books, prayers, Scriptures etc. that would be helpful, I would appreciate it!

    • Trish

      No Scripture quotes or books come to mind, but I remember being told by a wise, experienced Mom that just practicing the habit of arranging your face to reflect the love you have deep down for your child (underneath your frustration and impatience at her legitimate demands)will remind you to behave lovingly. I can’t say that it is a perfectly ingrained habit, but it sure does work for me when I remember to do it:)

  32. Barbara

    Congratulations!! Yay!

    I’m making lemon-blueberry pancakes for my husband and enjoying the first empty-nest Shrove Tuesday of our household. Well, maybe “enjoy” isn’t the right word, but it’ll be nice.

  33. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    Jen! I am so excited that you’re back πŸ™‚ Congrats on your HUGE accomplishment! I can’t wait to read the fruit of your labor. Happy last day of Ordinary Time! Pig out tonight πŸ™‚


    • Mary

      Congratulations! I’m a longtime lurker and love your site – looking forward to seeing the final product in print one day!
      Happy Mardi Gras – enjoy!

  34. Liz S.

    Congratulations! It is always heartening to hear of someone who overcame the inertia of a large task. You deserve to party!

    We always have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. If I don’t have a riot on my hands. The kids have been asking since last week about this. It’s a big deal around here.

    By the way, I love your new photo. You look very professional writer-y.

    God bless the next steps on your publishing journey.

  35. Marie

    Congratulations, great job!!! Enjoy your Mardi Gras/book celebration!

  36. Christine

    I MISSED YOU!!! Congrats and welcome back. Enjoy Mardi Gras!

  37. Sara

    Congratulations!! That must feel amazing. You should be incredibly proud!

  38. Deacon Joe Hilber

    Congratulations it gives me great hope that prayer does help the writing process. I have been studying “Story Engineering” that you recommended,Thanks.

    Enjoy Mardi Gras.

  39. Leila

    Just two words: YEE and HAW! (Or, HOO and RAY!)

    I could not be more thrilled for you — and for the world!!

  40. Pat J

    I am so happy for you! You’ve been missed beyond belief. I’m so pleased that my little prayers have been part of this process. I feel great things for this book in the deepest part of my soul.

  41. Kerry Wolf

    That’s wonderful, Jen! My sister is an author and I remember well how hard it was for her at first, caught up in that cycle you so aptly described, lol! Anyhow, can’t wait to have you back on the blog!

  42. CM

    Congratulations on finishing this draft!

  43. Hope Kidd

    Your clip art made me laugh πŸ™‚ What a wonderful acheivement! I hope it goes well for you and the publication process is not as stressful as you are worried about.
    Mardi Gras: I made beef bourgignon! YUM.
    Lent: I made myself a cheesy chart with 12 virtues that I’d like to work on in my life: cheerfulness, patience, moderation, charity, etc. I plan to work on one a week. (Yes, it will last longer than Lent, but that’s okay).

  44. Kirsten

    Congratulations!!! I’m thrilled for you and your family! You were such a major part of my conversion story two years ago, and I’m so thankful for you and so looking forward to your story in a larger format! It’s also quite remarkable to see how God worked through this process. I started praying a decade of Hail Marys for you after you asked, and though I understand how little a role I personally played in your achievement (despite how I may have explained it to my husband, wherein my personal prayer life was THE FACTOR) , I did get goose bumps seeing that you’re own Hail Mary pass was a success. God is truly great!

    May you enjoy your celebrations tonight, and may this Lenten season be full of reflective, peaceful growth.

  45. Jen Raiche

    So glad you’ve finished! I loved your use of “bad clip-art”. Brought back too many memories of animated gifs within emails. =)

  46. Blair

    Congrats, Jen! So happy for you. And so glad that you’ll be back more often. As for me, we had some apple pie a la mode today and are trying our best to be ready for the Lenten season. I’ve heard great things about Sarah Reinhard’s little booklet with daily devotions, so I’m hoping to buy that!

  47. Catherine P

    Jen, Big time Congratulations are in order, both for finishing this draft of your book, and for just plain p-e-r-s-i-s-t-e-n-c-e! And with 5 little ones to care for – amazing! I’m delight for you. And also am so glad that you had that wonderful experience of the piece seeming to ‘write itself’. I associate that experience with God’s speaking, in a way, through me. That is not ME writing so easily (and usually very well); that is God guiding the hand! I have the same experience in drawing/painting. Welcome back!

  48. J.D.

    I’m new to your blog (I’ve only subscribed for the past couple posts), but congratulations! I know how hard it is to write. Shoot, I have a hard time remembering to post good Facebook statuses I think of when I’m away from my computer!

  49. Cottage By The Sea

    Great post Jennifer and good luck on your book. I know I’ll be in line to buy it having traveled this road (vicariously) with you! I hope your first illustration is how it will go down this time. Have a blessed Lenten Season.

  50. Dreena Tischler

    You’re so funny. So glad you are done and hoping the best!

  51. Lacia C

    Yay congratulations!! I can’t wait for your book to come out! You are such a great writer.

    As for Downton Abbey, Season 2 was great, I ordered the DVD and book from Amazon. SO GOOD.

    As for Lent, Hubs and I are giving up alcohol and Facebook and we will try to do more of what is in the Ash Wednesday gospel reading (fasting, almsgiving, prayer). I am also re-reading some of your previous posts which really resonated with me when I first read them (Being Friends with the Emperor, Dying to Self, the Glamour of Evil, etc) — I did this last year during Lent as well. You always give the reader something to think about! Thank you for that.

  52. Bridget

    Praise God! What a great example of fortitude and perseverance for all of us… thank you for sharing the struggles and victories.

    Lent brings a new dedication to completing a “Total Consecration” which I almost completed last year. Several friends have joined on this journey, and the Annunciation (moved to Mar 24 this year) will be an especially meaningful celebration for us.

    You are in my prayers.

  53. Laura

    Congratulations on finishing, and good luck with your agent! Relaxation can take place in Lent too, you know. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your relationship with God is take care of yourself πŸ™‚

  54. Bonnie Way

    Happy (belated) Mardi Gras! And congratulations on finishing your book. That’s a huge accomplishment. πŸ™‚ I look forward to hearing more good news about it soon. BTW, I saw your article on how you answer people who ask you about overpopulation and really enjoyed it. Thanks!

  55. Jennifer Fulwiler

    Thank you all SO MUCH for your wonderful comments! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.

  56. Sarah Reinhard

    Yay! So glad to have you back!

    And I just LOVE that it was the Hail Mary on your computerr screen… πŸ™‚

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