I spent most of today reading through Draft 4 of my novel. I'd finished the draft last weekend and then set it aside. I even paid to have Office Depot print out the manuscript so I couldn't sneak a peek at it. I wanted a true break.
Today, my goal was to read through that draft and make notes for Draft 5. I expected a long list. When the premise of this story first planted its seeds in my brain, I imagined a dark, fraught tale and by Draft 4, when the tale wasn't that, I was feeling disappointed and overwhelmed.
But today I had an epiphany: my story is good. Its tone is just right. It's not meant to be dark or fraught. These characters would not work in that kind of story, and this story is theirs, not mine.
I felt both relieved and pleased. I still have work to do in Draft 5, but the list of substantive changes is much smaller than what I had anticipated. (I do, however, have an embarrassing number of typos to correct.)
That means the manuscript will be ready for beta readers much earlier than I had anticipated, and--depending on the feedback I get--I might actually be able to start querying agents before year's end (which is my deepest, darkest hope).
What a great way to start my writing year.