“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~Lao-Tzu
For 2014, I decided my theme for the year would be to focus more on polishing what I’m already working on instead of starting a bunch of new things. One of the things I wanted to focus on was a middle grade manuscript I began early in 2013. I’d already weeded out other projects that were taking my time and distracting me from my goal. I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other (i.e., words on the page) and git ‘er done.
Finally, I did! I had a complete first draft. Time to celebrate, right? Well, sure, but…a first draft is not a final-ready-to-send-agents draft. So, my next step was to revise. I began. But at the same time I entered a contest on an awesome website called Adventures in YA Publishing (if you write YA or MG, check it out here.)
In this contest, you submit a pitch and first line, and if you are in the first 100 submissions, you get feedback. I thought, awesome – I am going to get some feedback which will help me make it stronger. I didn’t actually think I’d get to the second round and get asked to submit my first page for critique as well. But I did. Eep!
From there, the top ten were selected to go on and get their entries judged by prominent agents. When I checked the list of finalists, I closed my laptop with a sigh. Oh well, I got some good feedback and that’s why I entered in the first place. But wait! What was that? My title? I flipped my laptop back open, and sure enough, mine was listed. Now I started to actually get excited. Big-time agents would read my work. Maybe even like it! Of course, getting your hopes up is a recipe for a shattered heart, so I tamped down my excitement and just focused on getting the feedback.
So, how excited was I to receive a request to see my full manuscript from not one but two awesome agents? Yeah, this excited:
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
A day later, I was notified I’d been named a runner up in the contest! Out of 100 people, I was one of the top few. Double eep! As a runner up, I received a first chapter critique from the fabulous Roseanne Wells. Her critique gave me great insight and new perspective on my story and I am so grateful to her.
As I’m getting more feedback from beta readers and critique partners, I’m taking one step at a time to make my manuscript stronger. And soon, very soon, I’ll be ready to submit my final, polished story to these agents. I cannot know where that step will lead me, but no matter what, I know it will be something good.
It’s great to look back now and see how many steps I’ve taken just this year. And it’s exciting to think of what steps are ahead. I just have to do my job and keep on walking.