Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aaaaaand I'm Spent!

As of midnight tonight, National Novel Writing Month comes to a close.  For some, it eases out with the pop of a champagne cork, as they celebrate 50,000+ words spilled out into a manuscript in less than thirty days.  For some, it clangs shut like a steel safe door on fingers not quite ready to let it close.  For those belonging to the former, congratulations!  For those in the latter, hey, next year contains the month of November too.

Champagne, © Chris Chapman

Writing that quickly isn't for everyone, but it's an exhilarating experience.  I've never personally participated in NaNoWriMo, but I have cranked out the requisite amount of words before.  76,000 words for a complete novel in 26 days flat.  It was quite the rush.  I was on a roll.  And I didn't stop until the novel was finished.

Agatha Christie Books, © Eric Huang

Not everyone can write that fast.  A number of authors were renowned for writing slow.  J.R.R. Tolkien took twelve years to write the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and didn't publish it until 17 years after The Hobbit was published.  Some authors, like Agatha Christie, could crank out a novel in a couple of weeks.  That's pretty fast for anyone, even if you're cranking out formulaic serials.  Getting pen to paper, or in today's digital age, getting pixels to word document, isn't easy.  It takes dedication, no matter how long it takes you.

Agatha Christie, © Eric Huang

So once you finish cramming in those last few thousand words, take a moment to congratulate yourselves and reflect on your accomplishment, no matter how many words you've written, even if it's Day 29, and you have 47,000 words to go.  Allow yourselves to feel like Agatha Christie for a day.

And then let it sit.  Don't send it off to a literary agent right away - ask any of them - they'll tell you the same thing.  It's going to be a long time, and several more edits, before that baby is ready for prime time.  No novel is ready after a single pass.  Hell, a lot of them aren't ready after several.  Even when you've edited it until you think it's completely perfect, it will get hacked to pieces by agents and editors and béta readers.  But that's a good thing, trust me!  After getting Separate Worlds back from my editor recently, I was shown firsthand just how much another set of eyes can do for a story.

You're full of enthusiasm now, and you can hardly wait to share your masterpiece with the world.  They'll see it all in due time.  For now, let it rest a bit, take a break, and get involved with another project.

Trunk it!

Trunk, © Brian Ford

No, not that one.  This one!

Steamer Trunk, © Justin Masterson

And once again, congrats on a job well done.


  1. Trunking! I'll won't take another look at it until after new years. You're right, it was a rush :) Good luck on Separate Worlds!

  2. Thanks, Shiela. And I think there's definitely a different feel, or view perhaps, on novels written very quickly vice novels written slowly over a long period of time. At least with me there is.