Who is writing really for--the author or the reader? Your writing may arguably be for you--to fulfill that burning drive to put pen to paper, but if anyone but you are to gain from it, you must finish the work and pass it on to another. So begins November's National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The goal of writing 50,000 words spurs many on. Being at the point of revising and getting my novel ready to send rather than write, I am not offically participating. To those who are, I cheer you from the sidelines.
To finish a major work is a satisfying experience. To allow others to pass judgement on that work takes courage and is necessary is one seeks publication. It also takes giving. Completing my novel to such a point that I can completely give it over to a reader or editor is my November goal.
Katharine Coles, professor, novelist, and Utah's Poet Laureate caught my attention recently when she spoke about rejection. Though she relates it to writing poetry, any writing can be applied. She says: "Rejection may be especially hard for poets because their work is uniquely intimate and personal--a rejection of the poem feels like a rejection of the self. It feels as if it's about YOU in the deepest way. But when we think about that editor as a mediator between poet and reader, we remember that a finished poem isn't actually about the poet any longer. In fact, I'd argue that no poem is ever finished until it has become about the reader--until it has created a space for the reader to confront or commune with not the poet but his or her own mind. If this is true, and I think it is, then the process of finishing the poem is the process of detaching from it and giving it over. If rejection of a given poem or poems feels so personal to you that you suffer more than a few minutes of ordinary disappointment that your wishes have been thwarted, then you probably haven't really finished the poem."
I want to strive for the point of finishing my work in progress to the point of not looking back and wondering what still needs to be tweaked. An editor can do that. But first, I must give him or her the chance, after all I can do. Whatever your stage of writing, make November your best writing month yet!