This is how a non-fiction project usually works: I create a proposal, including an outline and sample chapter(s), a publisher accepts the proposal, and then I write the book.
This is how a fiction project usually works: I secretly write something which may or may not turn out to be a book. If it reaches a somewhat book-like stage, I show it to my writing group, then my agent. If they agree that it might resemble a book, then the manuscript is submitted to a publisher.
These are both good systems. I’m comfortable with them.
But this year, something changed. This year, I signed a contract for a middle-grade novel which was NOT YET WRITTEN. This is theoretically a good thing. It means that a publisher trusts that I’m capable of producing a viable manuscript.
BUT WHAT IF THEY’RE WRONG??
I am now at the stage of writing something which may or may not turn out to be a book, except that it darned well better turn out to be a book, because CONTRACT.
I’m finding this somewhat frightening. Scratch that. I’m finding this Exorcist-level frightening.
My manuscript may turn out to be a bookmark. Or a potato.
How many words do I need for a potato?