The Union Creek Journal

A Chronicle of Survival

Rearview Mirror: A Look Back at the Union Creek Journal

First, let me just say thanks again for all the feedback and comments (even the negative ones).

As I’ve said since the outset of this endeavor, it was an experiment.  Although I may have some degree of writing talent, I am neither a professional writer nor a professional blogger.  I had never written a blog before The Journal’s first entry.  I’m just a guy with a day job who decided to experiment with what I saw as a new medium for the delivery of fiction.  Along the way, a few thousand people a day decided to read what I wrote.

The purpose of an experiment is to learn.

I’ve learned (and re-learned) a lot over the course of the last six months – much like the characters of The Union Creek Journal.  One lesson that is blatantly obvious, based on the comments of the last few days, is that you can please some of the people some of the time, but definitely not all of the people all of the time.  Although, I’m disappointed that some of my readers didn’t care for The Journal’s ending, the feedback was educational … and, as I said, appreciated.

A second, rather poignant lesson is that no matter how much you prepare someone for “bad news”, it’s never easy to take.  Consistently throughout this work, I have left the reader hanging from a cliff.  As I planned and wrote the ending, I hoped it would ring true to the frequent Friday cliff hangers and that it would come as only a mild surprise.  Obviously, it was a shock to many of you.

There truly are some things for which you cannot prepare.  (Hmmm … that sounds familiar.)

The Journal’s ending was not written in haste because of some personal crisis nor was it written as a cruel joke or because I grew tired of writing.  The Journal ended the way that it did because The Journal was intended to be a part of a two-part series.

The two books are meant to be a pair.  Neither stands alone.

One of my readers compared The Journal to the Lord of the Rings trilogy (not the original single volume).  While I don’t expect The Journal (and its sequel) to become the classic that the Lord of the Rings trilogy has become, I think the comparison still holds.  Each of the first two books of the Rings trilogy leaves many questions unanswered.  Story arcs are left incomplete.  Characters developed throughout the books are left in unknown states.  The three books were meant to complete one another as The Journal and its sequel are meant to do.

I can still remember reading the Rings books as a child.  Each of the first two books left me hungry for the next.  From the recent positive comments, it sounds as if many of you are in the same position with The Journal.  Others of you are ready to toss The Journal in your computer’s recycle bin and move on.

If you still don’t like the way The Journal ended, fair enough.  I’m not foolish enough to think that I can please all of the people all of the time – a lesson I had perhaps forgotten as more and more people expressed their appreciation for The Journal.

For those willing to continue to read what I write, The Journal’s final entry was perhaps the most gut-wrenching thing I have ever written.  To put myself in the shoes of a boy whose father came home in a box – a hero but gone, nonetheless – was very difficult.  I imagined my own son finding my journal, reading it and sorrowfully closing it with a few words honoring my last deeds on earth.  I thought of how my own boy might feel finding my journal, reading it and writing my epitaph knowing that I had died in a battle for freedom.  My hope, as I wrote The Journal’s final entry, was that my readers’ emotional connection with David and D.J. would be strong enough that the details of the battle could wait … for the sequel.

If you’re willing to consider returning for the sequel, you can expect several things.  First, you can expect many – if not all – of your questions about the details left hanging in The Journal to be answered.  Second, you can expect more action, adventure, ideas and gut-wrenching emotion.  Finally, you can expect an ending that leaves far fewer questions unanswered.  I do not intend for The Journal series to be a trilogy.

My plan is to have the sequel done by late fall … winter at the latest.  I’m not tired of writing.  Quite the contrary.

I really hope you’ll come back to read The Journal’s sequel.  If not, I wish you the best in life, in survival and in your quest for enjoyable fiction.

Thanks for being a part of the experiment,

– Toby


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58 thoughts on “Rearview Mirror: A Look Back at the Union Creek Journal

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  1. Finished reading all the journals last week. What a great read! can’t wait for the rest to be published. I love the the format your have chosen. Awsome!

  2. Bobby W Strickland on said:

    The ending was of no surprise to me. It was no secret there was to be a sequel. And the ending was in keeping with the rhythm of the story. What I found surprising was the reaction of the readers (dislike for the ending). I may be wrong in assuming that like me I found UCJ through sites like and being of a prepper, realist nature one doesn’t expect a sugar coated ending. A proper mind set would be to accept what comes and adapt to overcome! I accept it have adapt to watch for the sequel and will overcome when I have read the sequel! 1’st time to post, had to add 2 cents, and thank you TOBY. BOB

  3. I loved the ending and I understood why it was that way. And don’t worry, I’m sure most of the people following the blog since the beginning loved it and understood too, but it’s always easier to complain than to compliment! Thank you for the wonderful story and keep it coming! 😀

  4. I was surprised by the ending, but I still liked it. We’re conditioned for a happy ending with all the loose ends tied up in a neat little bow; unfortunately that’s not how Real Life works.

    And confronting your reader’s expectations is one of those things that capital A Authors do. So there. 🙂

  5. Mike on said:

    IMO, you may have dropped the ball on the ending, but I can not say I wasn’t hooked on the whole thing, so keep up the good writing. I’m waiting.

  6. Dave on said:

    Well crap, I was ready to give up after the whole Areila clinging to life thing. This started out as a “Journal”, but also had “parallel” stories to keep stringing the reader along. I never liked the WEI entries and could barely keep interest in the Pappy storyline. I always felt that the “struggles of the Johnson family to survive” didn’t include those storylines/points of view.

    So, you kept me reading/skipping entries to find out what happens to the Johnson family and Areila. I have only left one comment to suggest wrapping up the Journal with a final word of how the immediate family/characters managed to get past the Hernandez Gang confrontation.

    After the way in which the “journal” has ended, I will not be holding my breath for round two. I can pretty much sum up the next installment in the common preface, that the sequal in never as good as the original.

    I will leave one final word. This experiment went way beyond a journal entry by one man, to a stab at monitary embellishment.

    • Sounds as if you didn’t care much for the story at all.

      The Hernandez gang story line was wrapped up quite some time ago.

      You’re certainly correct that sequels are rarely as good as their predecessors. Only time will tell.

      “Monitary [sic] embellishment” was a part of the experiment. Is the work marketable? Ultimately, I wouldn’t mind making my living as a writer. This was my freshman work and I learned a lot from it.

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