Yes, you read that correctly. My manuscript is done. In fact, it’s not only done, it’s gone out on submission.
I’ve been working on this novel for three years. The idea had been with me for quite a while, but it wasn’t until NaNoWriMo in November 2014 that I began writing the first draft. Since then it’s undergone roughly 12 drafts and many, many changes. Although it is very different from what the first draft looked like, the underlying story is still there – only better.
When I set out in January this year with my word for 2017, focus, I was planning to have both my manuscripts finalized and ready for submission. I look back now and see I had stars in my eyes. The next nine months were solely devoted to this novel, and I needed every bit of it.
March saw me step back from the blog and also switch direction of my blog’s focus. Rather than my random thoughts, and some writing posts, I knew now was the time to share my writing journey. My blog became primarily a writing focused blog. Yes, comments dropped away, but my subscribers and social media following expanded. It was the right decision. I also didn’t feel pressured to keep up to a blog schedule, which allowed me more freedom to work on my manuscript.
April was the real turning point for this manuscript. I attended Fiona McIntosh’s Masterclass. You can read the recap here, but my advice to anyone seriously wanting to pursue writing is to do this masterclass. The financial and time investment is outweighed by what you will gain for your writing self.
After spending five days with Fiona and some amazing aspiring writers, I drew up my writing contract. This was my formal declaration of commitment to finishing my novel. Properly.
By June, I had steamed ahead with my rewriting and had begun nutting out plot points. But it was July, that I had my eye on.
In July, the next draft of my manuscript was done and sent off to my freelance editor for her feedback. At this stage, there was nothing more I could do, but wait.
August, my editor was back to me with some amazing insights, advice, and pages of suggestions to help improve the manuscript. It was exactly what I needed. I knew my story premise was strong, but the narrative flow was off. She was able to help me pinpoint what was wrong and give me direction on how to fix it. Moral of this story: use a professional editor!
On the 27th of October at approximately 10:30 at night, I was done. I had rewritten, edited, and proofread my manuscript. It was a surreal experience. Something at many stages of the process I thought would never happen.
I remember when I first typed the words The End on a manuscript (not this one, but the first full novel I ever wrote), it was a joyous occasion. One filled with a sense of satisfaction and pride. This was much the same, except more. Not only had I finished a draft, I had finished twelve (or part of) drafts along the way. This time I was really finished. Well, for now.
The process of writing a book is one of stages. Now, with my manuscript out on submission to publishers and agents, I’m playing the waiting game. Should my manuscript get picked up, I will be no doubt back on the editing train to improve my novel again. To tighten it. To sculpt it to a piece the publisher can market and sell. I’m ready.
But, I’m also realistic. Very few first manuscripts get picked up. I know that. I might get a series of rejections and that will be that. I might get further down the publication path only for things to fall over at the last hurdle. It happens. But what I do know is I can do it.
I can finish a novel to submission standard. I can put in the hard yards, the hours and hours of writing and rewriting. The hating of every word I write, the amazement that I wrote that?
I can do it. And I will do it, all over again.