I recently finished rewriting my first story. Back in April I received my first rejection e-mail (I feel like they should be letters) from a publishing agent. She didn't feel the spark and felt I deserved an agent who felt the same way about my work as I did. It was very....sweet. It was like a break-up and it made me laugh and at the same time was sad because I had already gone through a real break up earlier that week. She didn't realize that we did feel the same way about the first ten pages - I didn't feel a spark either.
So - it was okay in the end because it confirmed what I believed, that the beginning of the story was in serious need of editing. So I got to work, and then I kept going. There were some gaps in my story, some things that needed to be changed since I had now changed the beginning, and other little things I wanted to add because I know my characters a lot better now. There were also some cuts - the new story is a few chapters shorter than the original. It's like Stephen King said in his book On Writing, "Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts. This suggest cutting to speed the pace, and that’s what most of us end up having to do (kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings)...I got a scribbled comment that changed the way I rewrote my fiction once and forever. Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: “Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.'"
Second draft = first draft - 10%. I can say that I have done that. Not with that quote in mind either, just reading through I kept thinking, "Is this part really needed?" and so I did it, I killed many of my darlings.
It's time to start sending it out though. I found this awesome website, http://querytracker.net/index.php and I can look up agents by the authors they represented. So if I read a book and like it, or think it's along the same vein as my book, I can look up their agent. I can also track who I send my queries to and how they respond (if they respond). I'm really excited and nervous to get started again. And I have my office now (not all the way set-up but slowly getting there) and I'm excited to post all of my rejections - because the more rejections I get, the sweeter success will taste.