In April of 2014 I wrote a 10,000-ish word chapter book. I woke up every morning and typed out one short chapter, the story flowing out of me fairly easily most mornings. Other mornings, I would maintain my promise to write a chapter, even though I knew it wasn't awesome and it'd need to be heavily revised.
Fast forward to today, and this same manuscript has gone a few radical revisions, has been shown to two different critique groups, has traveled to an intense writers workshop down in California where it was shown to and earned some praise from writers and agents and editors. Everyone had comments on how it could be improved, should be improved, but they all thought it had real potential.
Over the weekend I outlined what I would need to do in order to submit it to my first choice agent by my children's last day of school. From that deadline I drew others: when to get it back from my mother to do a final out-loud read, when it send it to my mother for copyedits, when to get the first ten pages to my critique group, what weeks I would have to insert all of the feedback they gave me on the last version of the manuscript.
It's grown to 15,000 words, and it has matured in the years since I wrote that first draft, and I am very hopeful that it is the key to finally getting an agent. The picture book manuscripts that are growing dusty on my virtual shelf were and maybe still are good, but not good enough. I know it's the pressure of being this close and being this hopeful that has me looking for other things to do in my schedule.
But this is it--these next few days I've got to keep these slices short and focused so I can sit and focus on my chapter book, making sure the characters are full and funny, that each sentence moves the plot along, that each scene is interesting and page-turn-worthy.
Keep your fingers crossed for me (please)!