Last summer, I had half a manuscript completed and a lot of positive feelings about it. I made my writing goal to complete a rough draft of my current submission. It wasn't easy with an eight month old at home, but I made great use of nights and nap time and had a completed first draft by the time I went back to work in mid-August.
At the beginning of this summer, on the other hand, I had less to work with. I had ideas floating around in my head and a couple botched attempts at finding my main character's voice. I knew I wasn't going to finish a whole draft by the end of summer, but I figured I could at least start nailing down the manuscript's voice and have a solid grasp at what I might be writing.
This idea is tricky, though. I am not an outliner. I hate them, in fact. I want to discover the story and characters as I work. I want things to happen that I wasn't expecting, as those are usually the most realistic moments in my work. This makes it hard, however, to define whether or not I've made my goal. How much do I have to have done on the page versus done in my head? Case in point, I'm not sure whether or not the five-six thousand words of workable scenes I've completed and not pitched in the trash constitute "nailing down the manuscript's voice."
Either way, I do have the early rumblings of a new manuscript. It's just weird to be building on what worked previously rather than correcting what agents told me didn't work last time. When I let go of the pressure to keep my imagination flowing, it can be a really good feeling.