Wednesday, 3 September 2008
The Leaden Mean - N M Browne
What is it about middles? I don’t mean the bit of flab that sits where one’s waist ought to be, but the middle of a novel (where in truth there is often a bit of extra padding where the plot should be.)
Normally I like middles – I mean the middle of a sandwich is always the best bit – as a kid I never ate the bread.I was also extremely good at deconstructing Jaffa cakes so I could be left to savour the delicious orangey bit in the centre. Even today when eating cream cake I’m quite likely to skip the cake and go straight for the cream. The middle of the year is good, the middle way had a certain appeal and I’m even finding middle age tolerable, but I hate writing the middle section of books.
In the beginning there is that excitement – this is ‘The One’ – the breakthrough book, the best thing I’ve done. At the end there is the promise of those two wonderful little words ‘the end’ when all is resolved and the damn thing (note no longer ‘The One’ – just another one) is finished. The middle, however, is just all that stuff that makes the story work – I think it’s called plot and then there’s character development and world building and ... Well, the middle is just graft - the hard yards through which the shiny new idea is dulled and tarnished by much thought and occasional reworking.
I left my current book at the beginning of the summer at the mid-point, the middle of the middle. I do not know what I was thinking! Take it from me, you should NEVER leave a book in the middle. I have done it before and that story never got finished. This current one is lurking at the back of my head, taunting me even as I write this – half formed and whimpering...
I am sooooo past the point of initial enthusiasm and such a long way from the finishing line. I have procrastinated for weeks, but today the kids are back in school, my friends are back in work and I have just run out of excuses. Wish me luck - I’m going to need it.