Pens down. Computers off. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is over.Image

For those who don’t know, as the name suggests,  National Novel Writing Month is a month during which participants attempt to write a novel, ideally one of fifty thousand or more words.

I didn’t participate. Instead, I set myself a different goal: a short story. 5,000 or less words. Brevity can be its own challenge.

So, for all those NaNo writers (and less ambitious short story writers like me), now what?

Writing a novel, or even a short story, is such a joyful, immersive process. Editing, on the other hand, can be a slog.

Too often, at the outset of the editing process, I treat my work of fiction like a cake. Brush away a few crumbs, smooth out the surfaces with frosting, add some flourishes: a flower or a few well-chosen words, e.g. “Happy Birthday, Doug!” Frivolous stuff lacking depth and nuance.

When editing is going well, though, I treat the story like a hunk of bread dough. Knead. Leave to rise. Punch down. Leave it alone for a while longer. Maybe rip off hunks and reshape into a braid, or a pattern of rolls.

When it comes down to it, even though I appreciate an attractive cake, I far prefer both eating and baking a hearty loaf. The same goes for fiction. I’m happiest when the editing process is muscular, intensive work that yields a dense, satisfying product.

So, here goes. Hands in the flour. Ready those wrist muscles. NaNo-Edit Month begins now.