You take the steak off the grill. Oh, can you smell that? The char entices, and you know it’s the perfect doneness.
But don’t cut into it! Not yet! You need to let it rest.
Resting meat is absolutely necessary. Cut into that delicious meal too soon, and all the juices will run out. All your work will be reduced from sublime to… passable? Maybe?
Last week I wrote that I’d completed the rough draft for a new novel. My rough drafts always need a major revision. I need to tighten up scenes, themes, all sorts of things. (I also think one of the minor dragon characters may have changed gender halfway through the novel… I should probably check on that, unless I feel like introducing a wrinkle into dragon physiology.)
So why not just dive into it right away?
Because when you create something, you need to let it rest.
You need to approach your creation with fresh eyes. Does this scene work? What about this character arc? If you come too soon, you’ll be too close to catch many of the issues. Some will certainly be apparent, but others simply won’t be.
I do the same thing with short stories. I’ll complete a draft, and rather than going through it again immediately, I’ll set it aside for a day or two. I need to! But a novel is a longer, more involving beast, so it needs longer to rest.
Of course, letting a novel rest doesn’t mean the writer should do nothing. I’ve been cleaning up some short stories and figuring out my writing schedule for the summer. By concentrating on other stories, I’m forcing my mind to step aside from the novel for a bit.
I’m hoping to start in on the revision next week, but we’ll see. I may wait another week before tackling it. Either way, it’s rested.
And soon… soon I’ll be able to dig in!