Dear Miss Snark,
About five minutes ago I finished my novel. Cheers. Smiles are on the house.
I don’t know what to do. Call my mom, the pope, the girl in high school who broke my heart – tell her to watch out, I’m going to be famous?
Or do I keep the secret. Get down to brass tacks and edit (please note, I didn’t say brass tax- I’ve been taken to school already for that one).
It took me two years to write 65,000 words. Without you it would be 120,000. I have a bonsai tree. I want to put query letters in the mail tomorrow. I’ve edited all along the way. I’ve removed the double verbs when it was possible, I took the word “that” out about a thousand times where it didn’t belong. I’ve been up and down this thing countless times. I know where it curves in and where it curves out.
I’ve read a number of times an author needs to sit on it for a month.
Should I? This thing has possessed me for two years. I’m ready to cut my Siamese twin. Do I let her hang to my skin another month? What do I do in between? I’m not ready to write number two – I need a break from those people.
First, you revel in this achievement. I'm not kidding. It takes a lot to finish a novel and every agent knows it. Why else do you think we we always say "you have to be finished before you query"? So, first you buy the champagne and toast yourself. I raise the gin pail to you as well. Killer Yapp doffs his tam.
But yes, you aren't "done". You do need to let it rest. Don't even think about it for a month. This is harder than it sounds. You've been working on this so long it's a habit to think of it, but for the next thirty days you'll have to stop yourself. Kick back, do some fun reading, go to Coney Island, watch Season two of The Wire all in one fell swoop.
Whatever you do, don't query.
In 30 days go back and just read it. Don't think "ok, I'm going to edit". Just read it. See what you think.