I started THE DEVIL'S KISS back in October 2004. By November 2005 it was (IMHO) finished and went off to various agents to be rejected. So far so normal.
Since then I've worked and reworked it. Plots changed, characters changed, aged, died, were born, combined, split, personalities metamorphosised and so on. In November 2006 a new draft was written (then called GOD'S KILLER) and I had one of those first 3 chapter reviews up in Norfolk.
It was ripped to shreds.
New version was much stronger in many ways, but still not there. The Cornerstones WOWFactor came and I was short listed, then the Undiscovered Voices competition arrived and my agent appeared.
New rewrite! From scratch!
Now we're into the nitty-gritty. Editors are involved. Lindsey and Ari have cast their eagle-eyes and I'm back on the rewrite.
What I'm trying to say is really, it's a LONG LONG slog, and I'm still working on my first book. And my book's pretty short. I would also reckon I'm pretty fortunate in that the agent and book deal came pretty quickly-ish (looking back it seems like things were always moving forward, so that was encouraging).
Where are you in the process? Have you given yourself any deadlines, goals, timetables? What do you do to keep going and have there been any moments when you thought 'Sod this, I'll become a fighter pilot instead'.
I read somewhere (so take it with a pinch of salt) that less than 1% of submissions get taken on by agents and (this is also a big assumption) assuming they all got sold, only 5% of authors actually make a living just through writing.