Friday, March 1, 2013

ON BEGINNINGS (HOLLY SCHINDLER)


If I could say one thing about beginnings to my teenage self, it’d be this: they’re easy.

Oh, yeah, sure, they’re scary, too.  But there’s a hazy spot where “scary” and “exciting” blur until you can’t really tell so much where one ends and the other starts.  And I know that it feels, when you’re a teen, as though you’re constantly dealing with new beginnings: new schools, new relationships, never-before-seen hardships…But trust me.  Beginnings are easy.

It’s the middles that’re rough. 

If you don’t want to take my word for it, ask a college junior who is bone-tired and broke (probably up to their eyebrows in debt, too), and who has worked themselves to the nubs only to find out that their inevitable change of major has put them a semester (or a year) behind schedule. 

Or, ask the couple who have already been married twenty years, have learned virtually everything about their partners, and are only fifty years old (yeah, teen-me, I just said “only fifty”). 

Ask a novelist who has hit the convoluted middle of her first draft.

Middles are rough.  Compared to the beginnings that came before, they’re dull.  We aren’t talking about the thrill of moving to a new place.  We aren’t talking about the whirlwind of falling in love.  We’re talking about facing days that look pretty much like the days that came before.  The ah-ha! moment is in the rearview. 

But the thing is, you don’t get a glorious ending if you don’t ever slog through the middle.  You will never get to the sale of a book if you don’t push through that time period, years after the, “I’m going to be a writer!” announcement, when rejections are filling up your inbox. 

The middles—the times that require you to dig deep and get to work—are what make you who you are. 

And, in those middle sections, you will also be greeted with quiet moments of beauty and sweetness, too.  You just have to learn where to look.

I, for one, even take great pleasure in catching sight of my sweet boy sleeping by the door…
 


Like I said, you’ve just got to know where to look…

7 comments:

  1. So true about middles, Holly. Like my twentieth year of teaching when I realized I had almost ten more to go. Yikes!

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  2. Ah, the relentless-ness of the mushy middle! I read somewhere once that writing a novel is like driving through Texas. (I have never driven through Texas, but I can relate to the metaphor.) Keep driving, I guess, is the answer. But it seems to me that along the way you should try to enjoy the scenery too. The brightly colored road signs? The tumbleweeds?

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  3. The middles can be brutal, but the other side is oh, so sweet. Once you realize it, they are so worth it.

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  4. Thanks, guys! So much of life seems to be learning to enjoy that mushy middle!

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  5. Eeep! Sweetest pic ever! As someone who is slogging through a middle right now in a novel (and in life, sort of), searching for that end/new beginning, I totally was feeling this. But yesterday I had a moment of total sweetness while figuring out a middle scene. Definitely cherished that!

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    1. Awww, thanks, Steph! Jake's a sweetie. I'm in the midst of wrapping up a WIP, too! Sending you some seriously good writing vibes...

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  6. Aw, he's so cute, Holly!
    And I couldn't agree more. Even thought they're often painful and seemingly unbearable, you have to push through the middle to get to the end, which is the best place a writer can be.

    Great post!

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