Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Middle

I think The Middle is misunderstood. No one seems to like him. People curse The Middle.
I'm in the middle of nowhere!
This is the middle of hell!
It's the middle of the night!
Get off the middle of the road!

Other middles we hate are middle aged, middle of the ocean, middle ages (otherwise known as the dark ages, right?) mid life crisis, middle child syndrome, saggy middles...

But lately The Middle and I are getting to know one another.
And I am finding that The Middle is quite a useful fellow. He is like a pause. A reflection. Tell me you don't have time to think when you are in the middle of nowhere? Lost people have lots of time to think. The middle says I am half way to something, to somewhere. He lets me know I am on a path and that now might be a good time to look around and wonder where I am going, where I want to be, where I should be and perhaps why the heck I am even in the middle in the first place?

The Middle of anything can be thunderously lonely, or it can be space to breath and assess. See The Middle is a man of questions. A scholar if you will. A voice that asks who you are and what you want, simply by showing up and being The middle. In the middle of writing my book I paused frequently to ask 'What is the point? What is this all about? Where am I going with the plot and should I be going there?' Very important middle questions, don't you think?

The only time The Middle can be difficult is when you think you are at The End. Then being in The Middle can knock the air right out of you. When I think I am done, when I think the fight is over and the journey almost finished, to find myself so firmly holding The Middle's hand is a bit of a shock.

But I refuse to move on until I am done here. The Middle might have one more powerful lesson to teach me. And what a fool I would be to miss it.

What about you? What does the middle mean to you or your writing? How do you cope in the middle of things?


  1. I'm a middle child, so I'm well acquainted with the middle. I love the middle of my writing, though. That means I'm not at the end and I can stay in my world a bit longer, thereby avoiding having to think up a new idea.

    I know what you mean though. I thought I was at the end, but I suspect I'm about to find out that I'm about to be right back in the middle all over again.

  2. I too love the middle of writing. It is a wonderful place to be. Full of everything you have yet to say, and full of all the words you have managed to craft.

    If you find out you are back in the middle, you know who to email :)

  3. Since most of life takes place in "the middle" I don't mind writing the middle of my novels. They can get a little bogged down at times, but overall it's just as stressful as the beginning and ending, you just don't get that "I finished" feeling when you reach the middle.

  4. Is the middle an exact point or is it everything that isn't the beginning or the end? The middle of a sandwich is pretty important, we'd all agree. Being in the middle of a novel we're reading and liking is heavenly. Or there is that other wondrous word - midst. Perhaps that means more within than on. It requires that the person who is 'midst' is emmersed. Or midway as in Dante 'midway upon this life that I am set upon' starts the Comedia. So we could start in the middle. I am a middle and I think, although it is not easy not being the first adored child or the small dear last one - it allowed me to be the quirky one. And so the middle doesn't have to be boring or even restful really.
    hmmmm....I am smack in the middle of my second revision process. gaack.

  5. Anyone who has ever eaten an Oreo cookie knows that middles can be sweet. ;-)

    In writing, the middle is fine with me. Plenty of room to play. I think endings are the hard part.

  6. I am loving these posts with segments personified. You are a genius.

    Hmmm. Middle to me usually means stuck. Thanks to this post, i will appreciate the middle man, the middle years, the middle of my present WIP, and savor the dilemmas as they build, build, the end.

    Is that next, the end?

  7. "He lets me know I am on a path and that now might be a good time to look around and wonder where I am going, where I want to be..." is exactly why I named my blog "Middle Passages."
    I am so with you Tab! As for me, I'm enjoying this middle, and am learning a lot. In fact, I may be an eyelash beyond middle at this point, but I reserve the right to retract that statement at any time. :)

  8. I like this middle ground. Reminds me that I am nothing, if not in between. not a bad place, not a bad place at all. Resignates a bit of hope. Lovely thoughts today.

  9. I don't care for the middle of the night when I can't sleep, nothing to do but lay there and think of things that are going on in your life.


  10. When you're writing, the middle can be a time that feels like your slogging through mud. For me, that's the time I need to step away from the computer and do something else. Let my mind drift and ponder possibilities. Then come back with new ideas.

    Straight From Hel

  11. Great stuff (as usual)! I think, when I got my agent, I thought I was moving out of the middle on this Road to Publication (with a published book being the finish line). I thought I was going to get better acquainted with the end, only to discover that, nope, I'm most definitely still in the middle. Once I got over that shock, I'm quite comfortable here again. Because as cliche as it is, it truly is about the journey, not the destination.

  12. I am an only child. Middle is such a cool word. I used to connect it with being stuck, but no longer do. If middle is where I am, then middle is where I must be. And I love thinking that it means there is still an adventure to be had.

  13. Tabitha, middle places can be confusing and uncertain, but there is a certain freedom in them as well, because they are neither here nor there yet and anything is possible in them. I feel like I've been in a middle place for a while now -- midlife, transitioning in my career. At first it was very unnerving, even terrifying. Now, I'm feeling okay with it. I'm embracing my middle-ness, making friends with it, finding that it is being quite helpful to me, even though I didn't realize it at the beginning. :)

  14. Hm...the middle. The middle for me is usually a hard slog through mud mixed with molasses mixed with caramel mixed with drying cement. I get through it 1,000 words a day, but darn, it seems to take forever.

  15. The middle, also known as the wilderness, is where transformation happens so we're ready for what lies ahead. I've been here most of this year. One of the biggest lessons it has to teach is that discomfort doesn't mean something's wrong - in fact it often means birth is happening.

    One of the great things about your being in the middle without your Wanting Girl is that we get to experience a whole new level of your amazing writing.

  16. Yeah
    I guess the beginning and the end is the easiest part... or maybe not easy but the ones i like best-the middle is the development , where you have to focus on making understand... I love ends... Yes definitely

  17. The middle can be a complicated chap and very troublesome to bear with depending on the situation I guess. That first paragraph cracked me up! So true. I am certainly in the middle of life which means I'm stuck so right now middle means being stagnant and it is quite uncomfortable.

  18. I like being in The Middle - especially the middle of a novel or short story. What it means to me is that I've finally made it to the Real Story; the stuff that keeps the reader - and me as the writer - engaged and entertained. I love developing ins and outs of the plot, dropping hints and arranging lives and . . .

    Oh the possibilities for creativity in The Middle. Beginnings and endings are difficult, and need to be done a specific way. But The Middle is where the real story happens.


  19. If only this middle was as sweet as Oreo Cookies. I love that image though..

  20. love this post! and love being in the's like floating in air...HA!

  21. *sigh* the middle...well, he's not so intimidating now that I've read your post :)

  22. Claustrophobia? I always think of being closed in.

    The middle of a novel is the hardest to write. That's where things start to sag if you haven't set it up right...if you HAVE set it up right, it's where everything comes together and starts you on the road to its conclusion.

  23. "The only time The Middle can be difficult is when you think you are at The End. Then being in The Middle can knock the air right out of you. "

    You're so right.

  24. You're right. the middle isn't always bad. Right now, I'm enjoying the middle of summer. It's nice to not worry about purchasing clothes for winter, or scramble to fit the summer things in that we've missed. I'm just enjoying it.

  25. Back in Tennessee a common idiom I would hear people use when they were feeling just kind of "blah" is "I'm feeling fair to middlin'".

    I stuck in the middle with my WIP (sounds like a song). During Nanowrimo I wrote the beginning and end of my novel and then parts of the middle, but the crucial parts of the middle I'm stuck on. It's like I'm not sure what to do with it all.

    Interesting observations in this post. I happened to come across as I was in the middle of something else.

    Tossing It Out

  26. I am in the middle of waiting! Feel you girl!

  27. The middle is a place where I realize it's tough and I need follow through, habit, persistance, and chocolate in order to forge ahead.

    Fabulous post! I enjoy every single word here.

  28. Love this post. I was lost in the middle of my story for awhile and I've almost made it past, but now I'm stuck again, but I do know this - amazing things can happen in the middle.

  29. It's funny, before I clicked over and read your blog I wrote a post on juggling multiple projects, and how my greatest struggle is resisting the lure of new projects. I really struggle with the middle. But I love the picture and shall use it for inspiration. What a lovely metaphor for being "in the middle."

  30. 'Middle' is the top of the mountain, the peak, the curve before you begin to slowly slope downwards.

    The struggle towards the middle is slow, full of setbacks, obstacles, yet once you reach the peak and glance down at the long road you've just come from, you realise that the struggle was the best part.

    For me, writing the middle of a story usually spells 'awareness'. Up until that point I haven't calculated, planned or worried about where I was going with my characters. It's when I get to the middle that I begin to worry about what I'm going to do with my story. It's the dreaded wake-up call.

  31. The middle is hungry and we tend to under-feed him.

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