This past November I successfully completed NaNoWriMo. It's always a huge commitment to write 50,000 words in 30 days, and I am usually happy enough to complete something. But I was disappointed with my result--sure, it was complete, but it wasn't whole. Something big was missing.
I didn't touch any more writing for a few weeks. Then I started talking to a friend of mine, and as we talked about a movie (can't remember which, specifically) I realized that what my book was missing was stakes. And high ones a that. It lacked the excitement that I was going for.
This self-diagnosis was a little hard to take. In the meantime I had signed up for Swoon Reads, a crowd-sourced publishing imprint for teen romance. And somehow these two points intersected and I decided that not only was I going to completely re-write and re-work the plot, but I was going to do it so it would be ready for the next Swoon deadline--January 30th of 2015.
I had three weeks to write, and roughly three-ish to edit. I changed the ages of all the characters. I changed the POV from third to first, and I turned the clock back. I realized that in order to make the stakes as high as I needed to be, the story needed to be set during the war, instead of after. I created a more solid villain to up the tension, and I was startled by how cohesive the result was in comparison to my NaNo draft.
I spent hours searching for stock photos and playing with designs--and once I hit the submit button on Swoon, I felt like I'd finally taken a huge step in the right direction. I'd put my writing out there for the world to see.
As the days go by I am overjoyed to see people reading my manuscript, and thrilled by how many readers and writers have commented on it. My fingers are crossed as the cut-off date for the next list selection comes closer, and closer. I know the likelihood that I will get selected is slim. But even if I don't get selected, I feel I can finally be proud of this work that I have spent over six years, and five versions, writing.