I finished the first draft of my novel on Saturday, meeting my NaNoWriMo goal nearly two weeks early. I hadn't started this novel on November 1; I had, in fact been working on it in one form (synopsis, new pages) or another (critique group, revisions) for three years.
While it wasn't the only thing I wrote in three years, it did take up a lot of my writing time. In addition, it lurked in my subconscious throughout those three years as I worked out where those characters would go and what they would do and what would happen after they did it.
Even though I've typed "THE END," I know it isn't. I'm not satisfied with the last chapter, and it's been so long since I've read some of the earlier chapters, I'm sure there's work to do there as well. Add to that the fact that this draft is well over the desired word count, and I know that serious cutting and revisions lie ahead.
And so now, the hardest thing to do is the thing I know I have to do: leave it alone. Let it rest. Fight the urge to tweak this and twist that, to cut scenes wholesale so those numbers end up closer to where I want them.
And if I do leave it alone (as I should), what will I do? Resurrect an old project? Create a backlog of blogs? Start something new altogether?
A few weeks ago, before I realized that I'd hit this goal quite so quickly, I thought I knew exactly which project I would return to. But what seemed so tempting then seems less enticing now. I find myself having tremendous difficulty walking away from the characters who have populated the page in front of me for so long.
So, to my fellow writers of fiction: what do you do after you finish your first draft?