This post is coming to you from the Department of the Top of My Head.
IN the sports world, when a team is struggling through a rough patch, every win is treated as something of great significance. "This game is could mark a turning point in the season," the broadcasters and beatwriters say. "They really needed this win." It's a narrative that fans seem to eat up, but coaches know that this last victory is only really significant if the team then goes out in their next game and gets another victory, if they build on the performance of the last game. If the team goes out and lays an egg in the next game, or drops five out of the next six, well, that 'significant' win doesn't look so significant, does it?
Writing a NaNo is kind of like this. If you've managed to churn out 50,000+ words in the month of November on a novel, you deserve congratulations--it is a great achievement., one you can be proud of. The question now, however, is what are you going to do with it? This isn't just aimed at your NaNo, but at your writing in general. What are you going to do with it now?
The answer, of course, depends in a large part on what your goals are for writing. Let's assume, however, that you're here on this blog because you're like me, someone who likes to write, and someone who dreams that this writing thing can turn into something--a published book (or 2 or 10), maybe a career, maybe even fame and fortune. If that's the case, then what you do next is vital. You need to finish the book. You need to let the book rest. You need to go over it again and again, rewriting, revising, rethinking. You need to get it in the hands of people who aren't going to just say, "My gosh, this is great!" because you're their friend/son/wife/whatever, but people who are going to tell you what they really think. In short (not really), now that you've rushed your novel through the artificial growth chamber that is NaNo, you need to let it breathe, let it develop properly. The racing part is over. If you're new to the writing thing, this is a good time to evaluate the process and figure out what really works for you as a writer.
Now, I will share two bits of news from my own front. First, I aimed at getting BARTON'S WOMEN query ready by the end of the month, and I think I'm actually there. Woot! Second, I have been informed that I have had a short story accepted by the fine folks at Elephant's Bookshelf Press for inclusion in their winter anthology, due out in January, 2014. Double woot! How about you? Did you meet your goals for November? Did you NaNo, and if so, did you 'win'?