Back in September, I won an award at our regional SCBWI conference. It was a huge encouragement to know that a professional editor enjoyed my writing enough to want more of it. The problem? I wasn’t finished with the manuscript. I’d written an extremely rough first draft wherein a number of my story elements changed from beginning to end of my manuscript. As a result, you started by reading one novel and ended by reading another. My goal had been to just get from beginning to end, and I managed that, but it needed a serious rewrite to even be coherent, never mind good. So, I have been slogging away at that rewrite for . . . well, let’s just say it’s been a while.
But, the first ten pages were pretty good, and when an editor wants to see more, it’s time to get it together. So, I laid out a writing schedule, disciplined myself, and wrote like a maniac. I had a few setbacks along the way, but I was determined to wrap this draft up by Thanksgiving. Then, on my last full writing day (I have five hours, one day a week) before Thanksgiving, a sick child meant I spent all my writing time at the pediatrician instead of at my desk. And however portable my marvelous Scrivener app may be, it’s simply not possible to string interesting sentences together with a sick child in your lap demanding attention. It was clear that I would not make the deadline.
But, that, my fellow writers, is where community comes in. I couldn’t finish this draft and keep up with all my other responsibilities, so for the next week, everyone from my husband to my mother to my mother-in-law stepped in to take care of everything except the writing. And on Thanksgiving morning, while my children played happily with their grandmother, I wrote the final line of a story that makes sense from beginning to end. Talk about being thankful!
So, now that I have a coherent story, it’s time to make it good. I’ve realized that I work best with concrete goals and written deadlines. So this month, I’ve scheduled myself time to read books on craft and plan how to approach my next revision. As I wrote, I maintained a list of things I wanted to improve, but I also realize that I’m likely to have an entirely different perspective when I come back to the book for a complete read-through after Christmas.
There’s still a lot of work left to do, but in this season of celebrations, I’m taking a moment to celebrate this milestone. What can you celebrate right now?