• Alyssa Rogan

Eight Writing-Related Things I'm Thankful for This Year

Surprise! I'm delivering this post to you a day early. 2020 is a weird and rough year for so many of us, but it's important to look back and reflect on what we've accomplished. It didn't feel like it before I wrote this list, but I've actually made a lot of progress with my writing this year, and I wanted to share it with you. Happy Thanksgiving!

I started drafting my third book despite jumping into a genre I had never written before

It was around October or November when God struck me with the idea for my third book. I sat on it a few months since I had other creative projects on my plate, but research began in December and drafting in January. Contemporary YA is my forte, but I wanted to challenge myself with a horror-historical fiction YA mashup. I could have spent months and months worrying, reading books, and burying myself in research, too paralyzed with uncertainty to start anything. Instead, I gave myself a few weeks to research and jumped straight into drafting.

[Actually footage of me winging my first draft]

I was blown away by the feedback from beta readers for my second book

After finishing the first draft of my second book on August 20th, 2019, I wrote a second draft and sent it out to beta readers in the fall and winter. I got some excellent, constructive criticism that I've used to make it better, but I also got feedback like this from an actual teenager, which made my heart soar:

Comments like this are how I know I'm supposed to be doing what I'm doing. I read this email again and again.

I visited the setting of my third book for research

In February, I went to [an undisclosed location] to study the setting of my third novel. I'd been there before, but there was something extra special about envisioning what it looked like at the time my book is set. Not only that, but I snuck into the high school after hours where this book takes place and took pictures so I can describe the layout of the hallways and classrooms.

I mention this because I went here in late February, right before everything got shut down for the pandemic. It would have been totally discouraging to have not gone at all, so I'm very grateful I had the chance.

I queried my second book to forty-three agents

Did I get any requests from agents for partial or full manuscripts? No. Did I sign with an agent? No. But at least I tried, right? I got to the querying stage with a book for the second time. I don't know why nobody was interested. Maybe my query letter was subpar, or the story isn't marketable. Whatever the reason, I'm fully confident it will one day see the light.

I completed the first draft of my third book

Not only did I finish the first draft of my third book, but I finished it in nine months. That's a new record for me. I took two years to write the first drafts of my other books. Granted, I was a busy college student back then, but still. I went after it and got it done.

I set out to do NaNoWriMo for the first time

November is National Novel Writing Month. I'd never participated before this year, probably because I was in school or was already working on something--but this year I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. As of now, it looks like I'm going to hit those 50,000 words!

I bought my domain name and committed to posting on this website twice a week

Despite creating this website in June 2019, I'd been using the free version from Wix for over a year. A few weeks ago, I decided to up the ante, hoping that the .com tacked at the end of my website would make me look and feel more legit. It will also push me to put good use to my money by encouraging me to write on here more often. In fact, I've committed to posting every Monday and Friday. So far so good!

My optimism and confidence is ever-aglow

The biggest bummer is that I've gone another year without signing with an agent. Admittedly, I'm disappointed that I haven't perfected the art of the query letter or hit the market at the right time. Despite this discouragement, it's hard not to look back and feel proud of all I've done in the meantime. I'm still going. I'm still learning and getting better every day. And for that, I will always be grateful.

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