Last night, a small victory. I reached the end of my first draft for Book 2. It felt nice to wake up this morning and know that I have a complete story to work with now.
From here I'll track back through old notes to add details and make changes that I've known all along were coming. Then I'll send the draft to two valued writing friends and to my agent. They'll give back what my friend David Hansard calls the "big muscle comments"--larger story issues and general suggestions about characterization, plot elements, etc. With luck they may give nitty gritty feedback and suggest sentences to cut, better word choices, and that sort of thing. This type of critiquing is my favorite kind.
While that trio is off reading and marking in red, I'll have my head down for NaNoWriMo, looking for a story line that will take me through Book 3.
Some of the best writing advice I ever read was to start another book immediately. Two reasons:
1) When criticism for the first project comes back, it won't sting as much if I think I have a fabulous new project in the hopper.
2) Once invested in that new project, I'm less likely to let disappointment stemming from the original manuscript prevent me from finishing the new story I've started. It's hard for me to walk away from a word count. If I have a jump on some new pages, I have a really hard time abandoning them.
So the NaNoWriMo endeavour keeps me sane in November. And for the record, it's not a realistic goal for me to crank out 50,000 words that month. But I'm still going to plug ahead and see how many I can do. It will be good practice writing with no "internal editor" and I hope some ideas will come to me that might not have otherwise.
When I've rolled in the feedback from my friends and agent, the cleaned-up manuscript will go to my editor. This is when I'll start chewing my nails and buying cookies in bulk. Fortunately, it will probably happen in December, so the extra calorie consumption will coincide with the holidays. I'll hide any collateral damage under a nice thick sweater.