I started writing this book eleven years ago, but the setting has been a place I’ve known since I was ten years old. It was my first major writing project and stretched through the entirety of the aughts.
It grew to unmanageable lengths; first to 100,000 words, then 200,000 and beyond. (For the uninitiated: that’s way too long.) I made some modest cuts, trimming the last quarter or so of the book and pushing it into a second book, leaving me with a 160,000 word novel. I then revised, taking the book to work with me and spending my lunch hours revising and rewriting. The process took about a year.
After getting decent but lukewarm feedback from a set of beta readers, I revised again. I sent this third revision to agents in a querying process that lasted another year. I got a couple nibbles but no bites. In retrospect, I do believe that’s because the book was not as good as it could be. After spending two years in revision, I didn’t want to admit it, but the truth was that it needed another round of revisions – and not just basic editing revisions, but deep, structural revisions.
I set it aside and worked on Alex. After that, I wrote Rebecca. I wasn’t sure if or when I’d be coming back to Children.
But it wouldn’t let me go. It’s a great story, and one I’ve always wanted to tell. Ideas started coming to me, piece by piece. Enough time passed (two years) that I had distance from the work and could assess it more neutrally. Finally, earlier this year, I dove back in.
I’ve learned a lot about writing in the 11 years since I started this novel. I feel like maybe, finally, on the fourth revision in as many years, I can hope to do it justice. This summer, you can tell me whether I’m right.