Last Friday I sent my novel to my agent. What an exciting, cathartic, disturbing, nauseating relief.
A friend asked how many drafts I'd been through. After some thought I realized I had sent my agent my sixth draft. The first draft was like throwing spaghetti at the wall - a complete mess, but on paper. The second was starting to tell the story. The third received great feedback from my critique group, but also extensive changes. The fourth went to my top two readers. Again, I received great feedback and switched several scenes around in an attempt to fulfill some of the information gaps they mentioned. But in the fifth draft I went too far. The sixth draft was returning the order, but updating the necessary information. That is the draft I sent to my agent (after a sickening realization that it was 'time'). *whew*
It's amazing how much work has already gone into this novel. It's been a year and a half of work so far. And yet I know it has farther to go. I've already received some good comments from my agent, but I also know she has changes. That will be draft seven. And that's before it goes to a potential publisher. I'm beginning to understand the enormity of what I've taken on.
My first novel took four years. And while it got very close to being purchased, in the end it went back into a drawer, waiting for a day when I am a better writer.
This novel has taken much less time, so I am growing. And learning. And understanding why more people don't do this. Writing is gut wrenchingly hard. And yet, I have a story that needs telling.