Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Middle

I have reached the point in my novel all writers dread. It is The Middle in every sense of those words. I am at 25,000 words officially (having written a little less than 20,000 of those words in the last two weeks, I would proudly add). This is my self-imposed halfway mark. I anticipate the novel being somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 words, although this is total speculation, given that I am still not, after many failed attempts, a plotter. It is also The Middle in the sense that I can feel the creeping fear that I am not totally sure how to get from this point to the end. I always know how a novel starts and how a novel will end, but The Middle is when I find myself panicking that I'm not sure how to connect the dots.

The Middle happens in every novel. With The Middle comes the inevitable anxiety about the viability of the novel and whether all of the writing has gone to shit and whether I should just give up because everything sucks. Whether I am even going to have a chance to get to the end, because I might be stuck forever. The other day, I wrote 2,700 words, no sweat. Today, I struggled with 900. That's what happens in The Middle.

The Middle is SO un-fun.

I think The Middle is a good time, however, to reveal something that is probably surprising to you and to me. I am actually not writing a fantasy. This is my first YA contemporary novel. It shares a lot of similarities to the fantasy novel I was working on, before I wrote sort of an alternative version, which happened to be contemporary and to me, is much more interesting. I didn't want to say anything until now, because before you hit The Middle, you can be persuaded to give up on it, and I was determined to finish this. And not jinx it.

Up until now, my works have almost been exclusively fantasy, so this is a weird turn of events. But what struck me as a surprise, was how much more comfortable I felt writing contemporary. I think I was always afraid to try it, because since I'm a pantser by nature, I felt fantasy tends to give you much more of a structure to go by. For fantasy, the "journey" is usually outward, so it's easier to track. Writing an inward journey felt more daunting to me, because you can easily start to meander and your scenes start to lose relevance to the main plot. I'm trying my best to combat this. I am, obviously, not insinuating that one genre is easier or better than the other, but for me personally, contemporary appears to go smoother. Go figure.

So now I'm getting to the hard part, the part nobody likes, and I keep reminding myself that everyone goes through this part, I just have to get through it. One scene at a time.

Incidentally, I went to the store today and saw THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, so I immediately bought it, of course. As I was checking out, the cashier said, "Oh my gosh, I love John Green."

And I was like, girl, you be preaching to the choir. She asked me if I had read LOOKING FOR ALASKA, and I said yes, I read it the other day. We bonded over it. I love how books can do that for people.

On the back cover of STARS, the blurb from E. Lockhart reads, "[John Green] is one of the best writers alive and I am seething with envy of his talent." This, so much this. All I want to do is go around and share the gospel of John Green with the world. But I guess it'll have to be enough to sit at my laptop and get through The Middle. I have a cup of coffee, and John Green to help me out. I'll probably be okay.

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