2020: The Strangest Writing Year (Hopefully?)

Every year I like to reflect and talk about expectations, goal-setting, writing life, changing trends, etc., and as strange as this past year has been, I still want to keep that tradition going. That said, looking back, January feels like it happened three years ago, not eleven months. In fact, right at the beginning of 2020, I taught my first writing course—Starting a Writing Project—and over 40 people attended. I was super proud. Still am! But seeing photos of everyone crowded into one room has me reeling now. 

That’s why I decided to name 2020 the strangest writing year. Not only because it was absolutely bonkers (and still is), but because current events have also shifted our way of thinking about other times. They’ve also affected us emotionally, physically, and spiritually, too. For me, spiritually has more to do with energy levels. You know, keeping your hopes up. Holding onto focus. Maintaining a level of discipline and using your energy to keep on keeping on. 

That was hard this year. But I’m choosing to focus on the positive.

When we went into lockdown in March, I thought Kansas City would be back to normal by June, August at the latest. Well… I’m still working from home, and I barely leave my home office. Sharing my workspace with my writing space has certainly taken a dent on my productivity, but going virtual hasn’t been all bad. In fact, my virtual world is pretty neat. I attended WriteOnCon, the Kansas City Writing Workshop, and YALLFest online. I also taught my first writing class online for Woodneath Writers. More regularly, I attended virtual write-ins with friends in California and Canada! I also continued to see my two local writers’ groups every month via ZOOM. 

my life pre-lockdown teaching to a crowded room vs. my life after lockdown at virtual write-ins

In my spare time, I also wrote an article for my local SCBWI scribbles newsletter, and later that year, I was the local author feature. Even more mind-blowing? I was chosen as a co-mentor in Pitch Wars with long-time CP and friend, Sandra Proudman. Only three years ago, I was submitting to Pitch Wars as a hopeful mentee, so being able to give back to that is so much fun. (Fun fact: Sandra and I actually met because of Pitch Wars.)  

At work, I was awarded Maggie Jackson Community Spirit Award for helping The Story Center at Mid-Continent Public Library go virtual. It’s the first time I’ve been awarded anything. It was a true honor. I’m so proud of everything my team and I were able to do for The Story Center and our customers during the lockdowns. In fact, I recently got to watch 21 of my students complete the Storytelling Certificate Program (which is currently free, virtual, and open to anyone in the world). What a way to celebrate all their hard work!

In personal news, I got engaged! My partner and I have been together for almost nine years now, so this is an exciting step for us. We’ve been house hunting, too, which is fun and new to us. I also became student debt free this year, which, if you remember my post from last year, I never thought I’d get to see that day. I am so relieved. And happy. (And absolutely still rooting for student loan forgiveness! It’s such a predatory system, and I hope others get forgiven soon.) 

In publishing news, I went out on sub with my agent, and I’m soon to go back out on sub in the new year. 

Over this past year, I sent my first-ever adult science fiction novel to my agent and started an adult fantasy novel. Since then, I’ve completed one major overhaul of my adult science fiction book and I’m currently working on revising it some more. I also revised a totally other book, too (which is what we’re going out on sub with)! In regard to my adult fantasy book, I’m currently 40,000 words in. I also played around with four new ideas and even received some feedback from an editor through SCBWI on my first middle grade verse novel!

That said, this environment definitely took a toll. I used to write about 10,000 words a week pretty consistently, and that did not happen for me this year. Between adjusting my day job and just life in general, my overall productivity was down, but I’m pretty happy with what I managed to cover this year. (Also a little sad I didn’t complete anything brand-new, but I did what I could.) 

I have no idea what 2021 will hold. Then again, I never know what the next year will bring. 

Maybe 2021 will be stranger. Maybe good-strange. Maybe not. 

All I can do is keep writing, keep trying, keep dreaming.

My only goal? To do the best that I can!

Here’s to 2021,


If you’re interested, here’s my previous years:

15 thoughts on “2020: The Strangest Writing Year (Hopefully?)

  1. Congrats, Shannon on your engagement, award and thriving literary career. I am so happy for you. When I first started blogging in 2012, I remembered you as one of my first group of followers and have followed you as well. Stay hopeful and curious. Advanced Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!

    1. Yes! I totally remember! Wow, it’s been so many fun years of blogging, hasn’t it? Thank you for continuing to stay in touch. Also, thank you for all the well wishes! I hope you have a lovely holiday season. ✨

  2. Dear Shannon, it was a “different” year in every respect. I would never have believed I was living in such a situation, I have seen a lot in these 60 years, but especially in places very far from my country. I thought that diseases, difficulties, fear of the future could only belong to Southern World Countries, to places where there is great poverty.
    This time, an invisible presence brought us all together: no difference in social status, financial well-being and skin color. All, without distinction, equal in fear of being able to get sick and die.
    A form of attachment to life. The instinct of preservation as inherent in our DNA.
    Like you, I too have not written anything new… I have not published the novel that (I thought) could be selected in a literary competition having arrived among the first in the ranking.
    I was distracted, too intent on doing my payied job to help those who lost their jobs. I would say: I was overwhelmed by too much work!
    For now, I have been enormously lucky not to get sick, none of my family, but the fear persists.
    It is comfortable to know that time has allowed you to take the “big step”, and I am happy for you! I remember the first time you talked about “your” prince charming… several years ago, when I started following your blog.
    Now I leave you a thought full of hope, wishing you soon to be able to have a family that supports you… and that you can have the joy of motherhood!
    A big hug and be confident, look to the future with positivity!
    🙂 claudine

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