The Middle Malaise

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.

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8 thoughts on “The Middle Malaise

  1. Dina, I’m feeling your pain. I’m having the same kind of difficulty compounded by the time demands of marketing a book. I love your tips and I would love to interview you on my blog in the future – particularly your journey from freelance writer to novelist. I’ve just downloaded your book and I’m looking forward to reading it. Either way, all my best to you.

    • Ah, Kellie, I hear you! Last year, it was very difficult to try and market BABY GRAND and get IN THE RED written. I found myself doing more marketing than writing — even though they say that the best way to market your first book is to write your next one. :) Thank you so much for downloading BABY GRAND! I hope you like it! And I would LOVE to be featured on your blog. Send me the details! Yay!

      • Great! I will email you some questions by the end of the week. Take your time and shoot them back whenever you have a chance and include your jpegs of your book cover and you! Also, I plan to include the summary as well. I can used the one on Amazon or something else if you prefer – up to you. You can send me your email at kellielarsenmurphy@gmail.com. Looking forward to it!

  2. THANK YOU for those encouraging words Dina! I really appreciate them – I have quite a few friends who have written books – LOTS of them – Dr. Robert Goldman wrote close to 40 books! Fran Capo wrote 18! Robin Gorman Newman wrote 2 books within a few years. My sister Leslie Berman is a multiple author as well. I am an interactive installation artist SURROUNDED by authors – writing is like pulling teeth for me but your advice is inspiring – and actually, if I equate it to giving birth (been there, done that TWO times) then I should be able to birth lots more cause that was the easy part!!

    I will remind myself I am in my Middle Malaise – and trudge on – one word at a time!
    Be well, Alli

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