My romance novel has been running on neutral lately. Whenever I start writing, doubts creep up if I’m headed in the right direction. It’s the dreaded middle which is stopping me, and I’ve decided I need an outline to show me the way.
Yesterday, coincidentally, two of my friends brought up the subject of middles. One friend told me, after I confessed being stuck, that she sees the subject of middles as an on-going issue in my life. She argued that I easily start new projects or say I’m done, but middles challenge me. Another sign of flakiness, right?
A little while later my other friend called. She is pursuing a new project and confessed she worries about her follow through. She had tried many careers, and what if she loses interest in this new one too? I realized that instead of praising herself for searching for her next goal, my friend believes that her shifting focus is wrong. Switching jobs perhaps means no commitment to the middle of any one job.
But what is a middle and who decides how long it will be?
With books it is easy to recognize beginning, middle and end. My daughter likes to tell this story: “Once upon a time, the middle, the end.” For an opera singer, the beginning, middle and end of an opera are often clear: there’s a first and a last performance and however many in between.
But sometimes in life it’s not so easy to determine what the middle is or how long it should be. I was married for eight years when I decided to end the marriage. Had I admitted failure when I ended it so soon? Or perhaps my failure was not recognizing earlier that the marriage was bad? Perhaps I would have done better to end it sooner?
I know people who have worked in the same place their whole life, and I know others who move routinely from place to place. I don’t think either is right or wrong. As always, it is the circumstances that mean the most, and I wouldn’t want to judge anyone before walking a mile in their shoes.
My life has been, so far, a continual search. A search for love and happiness. A search for self actualization, self faith and belief. Many endings led me to new beginnings, and there were always middles following, some good and some bad, some satisfactory and some that I tried to escape. I don’t have everything (or really anything) figured out. But I do see my life as a journey to explore all I can, with no road map or outline that I can consult. I make it up as I go and hope that at least some of it will turn out to be fun.
Perhaps this is why I love to write. There’s order in a novel. Only one way to follow. It’s easy, simple and clear. And an outline exists, a beacon of light to lead the way to the landing strip of the end.