Middles are hard.
Not body middles, not mine anyway. I had a baby and it went all mushy. No sign of muscle tone anywhere. Beckham’s looks hard, but his brain’s mushy. But, as they say, I digress. The middle of stories I mean. Writing the middle of a novel is much more hard work than writing the beginning and I suspect, if you ever get there, it gets easier again at the end.
You know the part in those old Western films where the wagons roll to the top of a ridge and stretched out before them is Death Valley, miles and miles of dry sand and rock. That’s the middle. No end in sight, no guarantee that they will reach the other side, no water, bad men in black hats. That’s the middle. An endless slog that will test them to the limit, so far that some will never make it. Yep, the middle.
I think it’s different when you’re reading. Stuff happens in the middle that you want to know about – assuming the beginning has been good enough to get you there. The trouble is when you’re writing, when I’m writing (note the inappropriate use of the second person there, this could be a personal thing, me alone, with my own personal problem with middles, rather than a universal shared problem), is that you/I know what is going to happen in the middle. All that’s left to do is write it. And I’m a completer finisher and in a novel the middle is a long, long way from the finish.
‘Skip to the end’ someone said. I can’t do that! The story must unroll in my mind. I have to go with the ups and downs. I can write notes for future scenes, but I, personally, have to write it as it happens. Plus, when I do get to the end, I need to know that it’s the end, of the first draft at least.
So, here I am, pushing on word by word, slow chapter by slow chapter, with more perspiration than inspiration, painfully through the middle. Wish me luck.
The long and dusty middle
Middles are hard.