I started off the year knowing i wanted to be ambitious. I’d missed that aspect of myself; the reckless creativity and the hurtling towards something Big, even if I risked missing it. I’ve always been a journey-over-destination person anyway.
I finished 2018 well, with a 150k NaNoWriMo under my belt and my first attempt at PitchWars behind me. NaNo, by this point, is sort of a given but PitchWars was something new for me. I only had my shelved novel The Moon Path anywhere close to submitting, so I dusted off the pages and got to work on my submission package.
The Moon Path is my book. No matter what else I write, this book and its characters are such an intrinsic part of me, and I’ve never quite been able to let it go completely. PitchWars was an excuse to wake up my characters and say, “Let’s give it one more go.”
I didn’t get in. I didn’t even get a request, but participating motivated me in a way that nothing else had in far too long. I swapped pages with some amazing writers, some of whom I talk to nearly daily, and learnt a metric ton about writing queries and synopsisisisis. Most of all. I learnt that it wasn’t my query or my synopsis, it was my book that was the problem.
Which should’ve been deeply depressing.
It turned out to be the best worst news of my life.
I decided: One more rewrite.
Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a chronic rewriter. The Moon Path to date has gone through… five complete rewrites? Not including edits. Anyway. One more.
I tore it apart. I started two thirds in, I switched from multiple 3rd person PoV to one (and a half) 1st person PoVs, I cut away 50k and focused in on what was really important, and I thought about my readership the whole time.
I am excited to say, after years of agonizing, that The Moon Path is, officially, Upper Middle Grade. Which is a really heckin’ big deal for me!
Anyway. One last chance. I wrote without pressure of expectation, interspersed with fic (because, you know) and it has been one of the most rewarding writing years. I am so in love with my story, and everything I learnt last year has carried through to PitchWars this year and I’m feeling good. Whatever happens, I’m very happy with how my one last chance has turned out.
I’ve been giving myself permission to take myself seriously as a writer as well. In September I saw one of my favourite authors tweeting about a class she’s teaching with an agent on my list in October, and I felt it so deep in my chest, and I applied immediately. I’m excited to say I’m going on my first writing retreat as an adult next month! The classes are both things that will be really valuable to me right now, and it’s an excuse to really focus on my work, and it’s time away from real life, and I get to meet this author and and and–
So that’s a thing.
I’ve also been pursuing professional critiques of my submission package, as well as extensive swaps with my peers, and holy moly! I’ve learnt more in the last month than in my entire degree! It was terrifying, sending my work to industry professionals who I’ve admired/fan’d over for a long time, certain that they’d email me back one sentence: Burn it. But they didn’t. They seem to have faith in me and my story, and now I have permission to too.
Whatever happens next, it’s all been more than worth it already.