I’m Finished; Now What the F Do I Do?

I finished writing my NaNo 2012 project last night. It…was a challenge. I didn’t expect to make it, to be honest. I told myself that I had until the end of the weekend, the last day of the Christmas holiday season, to make writing my first priority. After that it had to go to the back burner. Based on where I was Friday, I assumed I’d be sadly finishing the book in 300-word spurts before work for the next month. Not so! Because my muse is a contrary bastard who only shows up to prove me wrong about him, I got a knock on my imaginary door at 5 p.m. Saturday. My muse stood there with an armful of roses and a six-pack of beer. “Babe,” he said.  It’s all he ever says, but every time I take him back. So probably not finishing turned into 6000 words in 28 hours. You know. Like one does.  I guess I’m still not technically finished because I have to write the epilogue, but its is truly beyond the main story so in another sense I totally did finish the story last night. Terminology aside, I feel finished. Wrung out and exhausted, my brain is still wobbly (better than the mush it was last night–serioulsy, it looked like DDL’s set by the end), but I feel done. And damn that feels good.

The piece turned out longer than I intended, about 40,000 instead of a slender 25,000. If I had NaNo’ed properly I’d have been done 5 weeks ago. But for me, 40K in two months is damn fine numbers. Damn fine. I won’t complain. Beyond the numbers, even, I feel quite satisfied at having finished something. God. That took me long enough (since Q1 2011, to be precise).

So. Now what do I do?

I am ambivalent about what comes next for this story.

Big picture: It’s a Christmas story. I’m not publishing it until next fall, when people are once more looking for seasonal stories. This gives me time to figure out if I am integrating the side plot with the brother or writing a companion piece, or if, while I like the characters of the brother and his new wife, they have no story.  (Hilariously this started AS the brother’s story but I quickly became much more interested in this brother, perhaps because there wasn’t much story with the other brother and my subconscious picked up on that. Funny how things turn out sometimes.)  So I have all the time I could use to polish and perfect before next November.

Micromanagment:  I don’t know when to send this one to beta readers. I know this much–I’m not revising it until after Mardi Gras. I’m not doing a macro revision, I’m not doing a tightening pass, I’m not even reading it just to read it until I’ve been away from it for 6 weeks. (This is not, by the way, Stephen King’s wisdom by the necessities of my own life. MG costume build has all my attention, plus I have an editing project that popped up suddenly and is due the week before MG.)  So…do I send to my beta readers now, in its roughest form (because I know the actual story stays where it is…all revisions are cosmetic and have to do with how I wrote, not what), and give them 6 weeks to read and respond and just do all edits at once? Or do I let it sit and then revise and then send to my betas and then re-revise off their input?  Occam’s Razor says best way to multi-task is to send it now. The artist in me would really not mind having more time alone with this story to just love it and bond with it before I get that horrible sick feeling of dread that comes the second I hit send on an email that has one of my stories attached.

I will probably send it now. I’m too curious to wait, even if the waiting makes me ill (whatever, I’m trying to lose weight anyway. Maybe anxiety will be good for that). I know the story is solid, if not brilliant, and I might as well hear all the places other people don’t like before I pretty up the prose around them, right?

At least I know what project comes next, even if I won’t be working frantically at it for a month–finishing the novel I set aside to write this piece. I have approximately six chapters left. This is going to be so easy now that I’ve been away long enough to miss them! The real work for that piece is revising backwards to account for all the story changes that happened in the year and a half I spent writing it….

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