Dear Journal: Novel Aftermath

december-calendarDear Journal,

Now that National Novel Writing Month is over I’m feeling a bit of a letdown. It’s such a rush to write so much each day and to know that I’m headed somewhere special with it. So when it’s all said and done and the novel has been put to bed, at least the initial writing phase, there is an aftermath, a feeling of accomplishment mixed with a “what do I do next?”

I talked to some others who also completed the challenge and I found out that this feeling isn’t just mine and mine alone. They feel it too, that letdown, that exhale without another inhalation. We’re six days into December and I’m back to reading (I put all reading on hold during November while I’m writing), which always gives me a bunch of good ideas for writing, but which is also soothing in its own right. But there’s something missing.

So I’ve been going back to the manuscript, the over 50 thousand-word novel, and picking through it for idiosyncrasies, finally looking at it with a somewhat objective eye after being married to it for 30 days, then hemming and hawing over every single word choice. And I smile as I go through it because it holds together nearly as well as I wanted it to while I was composing it, something that doesn’t always happen. In fact, as I look deeper into it I think it’s ripe for a continuation, a sequel, at some point, and that makes me proud.

And I think maybe that’s what I’ll do, that for the first time I’ll write a second book as a companion piece, then edit them both simultaneously instead of going one at a time. Maybe that will take care of the inevitable letdown that comes after a successful November. Or maybe it will simply create more to do, more complex characters to try and understand. But that’s the fun part of novel writing — the hectic pace, the joyous prose, and the editing aftermath. Because there’s always another story to tell, and always another letdown to avoid.

Sam

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