As I wrote on my Facebook page the other day, I had been discouraged lately because I was having so much difficulty with my second novel, In the Red. What the heck? I mean, I’ve done this before, right? Baby Grand, yes? What gives?
Suddenly — and truly it was like one of those Aha Moments — I remembered that writing a novel IS hard and that I had to give myself a break. It’s kind of like parenting — you forget how hard it is until you’re back to stressful, sleepless nights. And, trust me, I’m stressed and sleepless.
So, faced with blank pages and lingering doubt and fear, I did what I always do: Just write. Sit down and do it. No excuses. Hard shmard. Go for it. Eye of the tiger.
And as I pushed myself to keep writing — and, trust me, there’s quite a bit of pushing — at some point, the writing got easier. I could feel the adrenaline starting to pump again, my excitement once again building, the words coming to me more readily, unlike the “pulling teeth” of weeks prior. And, boom, another Aha Moment. Could I have forgotten all about this too? A little something I like to call The Middle Malaise.
Writing the middle section of a book, at least for me, is the hardest. The beginning is easy. As I like to say: Anyone can start a novel (but not anyone can finish one). You’re full of excitement and inspiration and tons of energy, and then about a hundred pages in, all of that wanes. You question your motives, whether any of this is interesting, and you’re not exactly sure what the heck is going on now, who these characters really are, and whether any of it makes sense — even WITH an outline. Ah, The Middle Malaise. Gotta push through, push through. And, suddenly, everything becomes clear once again. You see how the ending of the book will come about, like the proverbial light at the end of a dark, dark tunnel. I found myself muttering, “Yes, that will work!” or “Oh, I can do this!” and the clouds cleared and narratives tied together and — lo and behold — writing was fun again.
So, for those of you who are out there in the middle of your manuscripts and faltering and stumbling and questioning your decision to write, remember: If you can get through that Middle Malaise — and remember that writing is hard — chances are that you’ll not only pass the finish line, but you’ll do it with a feeling of accomplishment that you will not believe. Now, THAT I remember.