I’ve reached 31,000 words in my manuscript. Only 40,000 more to go. The set-up’s finished. Characters are introduced. Things are slowing down and getting serious. Which means, I’m in that middle place where things start tempting me besides writing.
When I get up every morning, I drink a couple cups of coffee with the Old Poop before I finally wander into my back room, sit in front of my computer, and start to work. I don’t start writing. I read e-mails and maybe a blog or two to get the noggin going before I turn to my WIP. Lately, though, if there’s a link that looks interesting, I follow that up, too. I mean, if there’s a new way to guarantee one thousand followers with five tweets, I’d be silly not to read about it, right? And what about the link with lots of pictures of cats and dogs. Who could pass that up?
It’s called stalling. But I know myself, so pretty soon, I make myself stop and pull up my manuscript. I always do rewrites on whatever I wrote the day before and then get busy on new pages.
Most days, that’s when my cat stalks in to jump on the office chair he considers his. Did I ever tell you how cute my cat is? Yes, I’m in the middle of a paragraph, but Dutchy curls in his chair and starts purring and I have to stop writing to pet him. Cats need love, and Dutchy needs more than most. Then the dog bounces in and wants me to let him outside. A good reason to leave my desk. While I’m at it, I might as well grab some cashews from the can in the kitchen.
Then it’s back to work again. Fanny in chair. Except that it sounds like the parakeet’s digging for seeds from the bottom of his food dish. He must need a refill. Up I get again. Ten minutes later, I look at the time. How did it get so late? I head back to my computer. This time, I will NOT stop typing until I finish a chapter. But I hear the dog bark, and I know that means the mailman’s come. Maybe he brought a new magazine for me to thumb through. I should wait to see, but it only takes a few minutes to get the mail. Up I go again. There IS a magazine. I flip through the pages quickly before I put it next to my reading chair, then back to my computer it is.
Soon it’s lunch time. I can’t concentrate when I’m starving. And the next time I glance at the clock, it’s afternoon. Now, an internal alarm goes off. If I don’t duct tape myself to my chair, there will be no chapter. This time, I’m serious.
In a few hours, I finally have a seven-page chapter done. Not the most I’ve ever accomplished, but I’m a slow writer anyway. One chapter is good, right? Nothing to brag about, but I’ll take it. And it moved the story forward. I peek at my plot points, and tomorrow’s chapter will be tricky to navigate, too. And so is the chapter after that. And then, some new action. The words should flow a little faster, have more oomph than angst. I’m only three chapters away from the next plot twist.
I can make it three more chapters. I can write more words, better words, in less time. But I invited friends over for supper tomorrow night. I might want to make a few things ahead. Joy! I know I’ll be up and down tomorrow, too.
I’d like to say that I didn’t succumb to the middle muddle before my husband retired, that I had more discipline and stuck it out. But that wouldn’t be true. There’s something about the middle that only lets me write in spurts. A page here. Oh, a phone call–yay! Two pages there–why not make the pasta salad now? Stops and starts. Until I find my groove again, piling on complications and pushing my protagonist’s goal further away, it’s work to write. But the middle will eventually grab me again, I know. Book after book, this rhythm repeats itself. But soon, characters will reveal more about themselves. Tension will build. Clues will point, and I’ll place my fingers on keys and lose track of time for hours. But not right now. Right now, a fig bar is calling to me. Have to go!
And happy writing!