It feels like forever since I've shared an update about my novel-in-stories, though in actuality it's been about ten months. So. What's been going on with it? Lots of ups and downs (as usual), lots of "This isn't very good. Why do I keep working on it?" followed by "Wait. I do really like this one scene. And that one's not bad, either. And this part's actually quite nice." And so on.
Despite the recurring doubt, in the last ten months I have made a lot of progress. I've gone through another three drafts. I've stopped skipping over the parts of the book that I kept telling myself I'd fix later; I actually got around to fixing them. I put on my too-small editing hat and watched my word count drop from 90,000 to 78,000, but as a result saw the good parts buoy up to the surface.
I've finally reached the point of feeling good enough about my book to start sharing it with other people.
Sharing your work, especially a project that you've been working on for a long time, is daunting, exciting, nerve-wracking, and a relief. Positive feedback is awesome; even the kindest thoughtful criticism inevitably makes you feel a little dumb (how was I so blind?) yet is also extremely necessary. I'm lucky to have a handful of friends and a husband whom I can get this sort of feedback from. I'm also looking into hiring a freelance fiction editor, too — as an investment in both this book and my writing in general.
A huge lesson I've learned in the process of writing this book has been to not count on your plans going as you expect. I've been working on this book for close to 3 years, and I had to completely start over at one point. But for anyone wondering, and in a continued effort to hold myself accountable, here's the plan for the months to follow: collect as much feedback as I can, use draft number five to fix what's not working, use draft number six for a final polish, then figure out how to get this book out into the world.