So, as of a few minutes ago, I submitted my manuscript to The Tracking Board’s Launchpad contest.
I was originally going to go with the title That One Thing. But this week I hired an editor to review the 150 pages I had so far. She gave me the idea of re-naming the project to Women on Top. Women on Top is the name of the magazine my narrator owns, and it also speaks to the overall theme of the book.
I have spent the last two weeks reading and re-reading the same 150 pages trying to choose the 50 pages that should be submitted. That’s after I made close to 1,000 edits that I received from a beta group of readers I paid to review it. One in particular-Margarita Montimore-was a godsend. Go here to hire here. As overwhelmed as I was every time I opened the excerpts she reviewed, I poured over every single edit and tweak and suggestion (and there were a lot!) she made. It was like Writer’s Boot Camp.
One suggestion all five of the editors gave me was that I needed to go deeper with Francesca. All of them loved the story, and three of them noted that Francesca was very compelling, but all of them used the word “damaged” to describe her. At first, feeling protective, I got defensive. Derp. Of course I did. Francesca is based on me. But after I sat and thought about it, I came to terms with the fact that I am damaged. And that’s okay. I love Francesca. She’s resilient and witty and determined…and broken. She’s all of those things, not just one. She’s me.
This thing I’ve called a draft for so long is now a book. It’s amazing to go back and read old drafts and see the progress I’ve made. I kept saying that I didn’t want Francesca to be damaged or broken, but I realized that’s what makes her compelling. She’s messy and complex. Writing her that way required me to be willing to dig into my own issues. So, yeah, that was fun. Ultimately, I think I’ve written a woman that readers will like and root for.
Submitting this manuscript has been the main thing I wanted to accomplish this summer, and I did. They announce the top 25 manuscripts in October. Wish me luck!