Learn more about WriteOut, a writing camp for teens founded by Ally.


Earlier this week, I was thinking about my resolutions for this year, and I looked back on some from 2009 to see how I’d done:

1. Run a 5K with my friends, a 10K with my family, and a half-marathon with my husband. Check.

2. Smile and laugh more with my kids. Sort of check. I’ve done better, but there’s still room for improvement.

3. Plant a garden. No check. Failed miserably. Even killed my houseplants. Darn it!

4. Finish one of the books I’ve been writing. Check. I actually finished two. And started two more. Amazing, the time you have when you’re avoiding planting a garden…

This last resolution made me think about how much has changed in the past twelve months.  At this time last year, I wasn’t in a great place with my writing. (Notice that my resolution doesn’t say Publish a book, just Finish a book.)   Last year, my publisher had just told me that they were no longer interested in my work-in-progress, which I’d written 80,000 words of and which was almost done.  The economy was in shambles and they wanted me to do something less risky. They asked me to try my hand at something else…inspirational non-fiction. Non-fiction?!? I’m horrible at non-fiction. And even worse at being inspirational. (Clearly they had not read my blog.)

So I thought of a different fiction idea, and that was kind of our compromise solution. I wrote that book (and felt good about the way it turned out), submitted it, they loved it, and it’s coming out this month. (It’s Being Sixteen, for those who are interested, and it’s published by an LDS/Mormon publisher and has LDS/Mormon characters, just FYI.)  It felt good to write that book and at the time I felt like it was the best thing I’d ever written.  

And then I turned my focus to another idea, one I’d had since the fall of 2008 and had been dabbling away at now and then. It was an idea triggered by a combination of a middle school memory (if you grew up in the 90’s like I did, perhaps you remember computer-generated “matching” dances) and a conversation that my husband had with his colleagues about marriage and government. The idea turned into a book unlike anything I’d written before.  I finished it in August of this year and some really good things have happened since then.

And hopefully, sometime in the new year, I’ll be able to tell more of the details. But for now, I’m just really happy I didn’t quit. Because I thought about it. Very seriously, for a little while. I thought that maybe it was time to put writing on the back burner.  I do have young kids, and while I only write when they’re asleep or at pre-school, maybe they would appreciate having photo albums, or a clean house, or, you know, a garden.  

We all do this–think about quitting–don’t we?  (Don’t we?) But then we realize that we can’t quit, because we’re writers (or dancers, or runners, or musicians, or whatever your passion is), and that’s who we are, so we might as well get used to it.  Because whatever happens after, it’s about those moments when you’re doing what you love, and you’re doing it simply because you love it, with no thought about what comes next.

+ comments (19)
  • Erin Summerill
    December 29, 2009

    I love your blog. YOu make me smile. And I to am so glad you didn’t quit! luv erin

  • becca
    December 29, 2009

    YES! Good stuff. And look at your clean, pretty new site! I like clean. It’s good. And yes, on your resolutions. I’m so, so glad you keep writing!

  • Kristi Stevens
    December 29, 2009

    I’m at that point right now. My resolutions last year were very similar to yours and I completed most of it. (Except I only finished one book, my first.)

    I’m wondering if it’s worth it. I mean really, really worth it. I love writing. But would time be better spent elsewhere? If I didn’t write I could help more in the community, deep clean my house, focus on my garden (It died from neglect.), spend more time in the kitchen.

    Now that I’m agent shopping, I have doubts. Is it going to be worth it? Can anybody get published in this economy? My friend Janette R. recommended I check out your blog. So glad I did.

    Thanks Allyson! That is exactly what I needed to hear.

  • Stacey
    December 29, 2009

    Ally you are so so wonderful! I am so putting my resolutions up on my blog next year so I can look back at them and get some of them done. I am sure that my list is missing in the mess that I promised to get organized this year and has thus been completely forgotten and I have failed at all of it.

    You know I love you!

  • Sandy Shin
    December 30, 2009

    Thank you for such an inspiring post. I love writing, but I don’t plan to make it my life, and sometimes, I wonder if quitting is the better choice. But I am still persevering, and I hope I still will comes this time next year. :>

  • Heather
    December 31, 2009

    This is so true. It is easy to quit, then not so easy to deal with the consequences of that action. It is better to worry, stress, not quit, and then…HOPEFULLY….enjoy the euphoria of doing something hard.

    I am still learning this lesson.

    PS…. Steve thinks you are a rock star for “making time” to write. He loved that post.

  • Julie
    December 31, 2009

    I think it takes courage to review your resolutions. By December I’m usually pretending I never made any so I don’t have to acknowledge how poorly I kept them. 🙂

    And for the record, I think any creative endeavor is like planting a different kind of garden, with a different kind of fruit. Everybody needs to do something creative–it’s the divine urge within us. I happen to not have a dirt and blossom kind of garden either, but I’m trying to keep a good journal. It’s all a matter of priorities, I guess.

    Thanks for the insights!

  • Jill Wheeler
    December 31, 2009


    Great minds think alike, eh? I look forward to reading your new book.

  • ally
    January 1, 2010

    Erin–You make me smile. 🙂

    Becca, one of the best parts about writing has been meeting you.

    Kristi, I’m so glad you liked this post. Hang in there! And how fun that you know Janette R. She’s great, isn’t she?

    Stacey, I didn’t include the whole list…there are plenty I just didn’t do, too. 😉

    Sandy, good for your for still persevering. You can do it!

    Heather, you are awesome, and so is Steve. Tell him I think he’s a rock star too. I think he might be the only guy who has ever read this blog! 😉

    Julie, thanks for making me feel less guilty about the garden.

    Jill–and I look forward to reading yours! Great minds do think alike–but I think yours sounds more fun and lighthearted. Mine ended up being kind of dark.

    Happy New Year, everyone!

  • Heather Moore
    January 2, 2010

    Don’t worry about the garden. The year that I did plant one, our dog (who eats like a goat), pretty much ate everything, and then my husband mowed the pumpkin plants. But all of my books are still intact.

  • Shelli
    January 4, 2010

    hey – just read PW! Congrads! Ive been following your blog and love that I can sign up now :).I needed this today. In revisions with agent now. Hope to be on sub this month and trying to make it with a 5 yr old and 2 yr old. so it can all happen? We really can have it all? Nice! 🙂

  • Kayla
    January 4, 2010

    Ally, I am glad you never gave up on your idea that turned into a book. I would have never had the opportunity of a life time!! Thank you for the long hours of staying up late at night and not worrying about clean floors to accomplish this goal last year!

    This has inspired me to continue on 2 goals on of which I have had for over 30 years…and this is the time and season to accomplish it. The other goal a new and exciting one that I can’t wait to share as soon as I accomplish it…….

    Love your inspiring words!

  • Marissa
    January 4, 2010

    I’m really excited for Being Sixteen to come out! (Although I have no idea when it’s coming out) But I preordered it on deseret.com anyway! 🙂

  • ally
    January 5, 2010

    Heather, thank you so much for your comment. I feel much better about the garden. 🙂

    Shelli, thanks for the congratulations! And yes, you can do it!

    Kayla, you’re amazing. I know you can do anything…I’m so glad to know you.

    And Marissa, you totally made my day. 🙂

  • Mindi
    January 13, 2010


    This is so inspiring. I have photo albums. I question the importance of them constantly as our photos flash across our apple tv and our albums lay dusty under piles of children’s books. I even have clean floors, for 30 seconds a day until Zack plays “doggie” on the floor, eating crackers with no hands and Sophie throws her rice bowl. I even have a garden that cost me twice as much as buying the organic produce from the farmers market. I got teary-eyed reading the news and your blog. What you are doing is changing people. Congrats. There is nothing better than fulfilling your passion in life. I can’t wait to read your new stuff. I wish I could run with you and get all the scoop.


  • Amanda
    February 24, 2010

    Ironically, in the fall of 2007 I came up with a very, very similar premise. I wrote/revised/edited the book in 2008 to early 2009. It’s not the same as Matched – it’s a standalone traditional dystopia meant for the new adult market – but it’s close enough that before I’d even heard about your book, the agents looking at mine started rejecting it based on it having the same premise as yours. Which of course is a bit devastating to me, of course, but I don’t hold any bad feelings and I hope you do well. I’m putting my book (MatchMakers Incorporated) away for now and concentrating on other projects, but I sort of wanted to reach out and make contact because this whole situation punched me in the gut back in December and I’m trying to smooth that wound out in myself. I didn’t want to have any hard feelings against anyone.

    Sorry if this sounds like a rambling little comment. I just wanted to say good luck and I’m glad this has worked out for you.

  • ally
    February 24, 2010

    Amanda, I’m so sorry. It sounds like you must have submitted just after I did? I’m surprised that people weren’t still interested–after all, there are plenty of other books out there that have similar premises to one another–and your book and mine do sound very different. (Obviously, I’ve never read your book, but your description sounds like they are quite unique.) How frustrating. Thanks for your well-wishes, and I wish you the best too.

  • Amanda
    February 24, 2010

    Actually I began submitting in January 2009 but I was far lazier than I should have been and only submitted sporatically (Jan, July, Dec). Plus it seemed most agents who wanted to look at it were worried because it was a YA concept in an adult book. They weren’t sure how to market it, though they liked it and thought it was well-written. Frustrating. It is still out at several agents. I stopped submitting after getting the rejections based on your book sale (the pitch is incredibly similar, down to comparing to the same books even), but there are about 10 I haven’t heard back from yet. We’ll see what happens. Thank you for your well-wishes too.

  • ally
    February 24, 2010

    No problem! 🙂

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