The Hardest Part
The middle of any undertaking is enough to send me screaming and running for the hills, pulling my hair out, yelling the futility of it.
During this stage, I usually stare at my computer screen in disgust, (like it is the computer’s fault?) walk to the kitchen and pour a cup of coffee. Then, instead of sticking to my writing schedule, a thousand myriad and sundry tasks assail my mind and pull me off course. The bills need attention, oh and did I forget to call the yard guy? and what about that trip the end of the month – ?
After I take care of some of this stuff – which is a total and completely premeditated distraction – I dutifully return to my computer. Then the second guessing begins: Why did I go down that road with the plot? Look at all the details I have to keep up with! Are you nuts? (Debatable – any writer is kinda halfway there already) Did you paint the character richly enough? Why did you decide to write a book, anyway? Who do you think you are?
That’s about the time I need a cheerleader, or an accountability person, or an involved editor or agent. If none of these are forthcoming, I resort to blogging. At least I am writing, I tell myself, that should count for something. It’s practice, right? I’ll get back to the book. I will.
The middle of anything, for me, is the hardest part. At the least, disgruntling, and at the most, infuriating. Plus, isn’t that when many of us become discouraged and give up? How many tasks have we left undone because we couldn’t keep going through the drab and dusty middle of them?
There’s a fine line between what should be, what is, and the starry-eyed imagining of what could be. But the hard (let’s be honest) drudgery – the day-to-day implementation of necessary steps to reach the goal – that’s the rub. To keep at it. Not give up.
Persevere. That was my word last year, the one I chose from all the other worthy and appropriate words I could have chosen. And I did a lot of persevering. I persevered through editing, rewriting, the reality of publishing my first book. A mountaintop experience for sure, one which guaranteed a steep fall back to reality. And now here I am, in the middle again.
The word I chose to focus on this year is anticipate. A hopeful word, a faith-filled word. One that assumes the best and faces the worst with optimism. Then I tripped on another middle, and tumbled into a pit of quicksand. I am not so quick to pull myself out if I am in the disorderly, sticky, jumbled middle. It doesn’t help that I tend to be impatient.
And this, from James 1:2-4: “Consider it a great joy whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (steadfastness, patience). But endurance must have its entire work, so that you will be mature and complete.”
Mature and complete I am definitely not. I am willing, though. I am afraid it may take more perseverance to stumble forward toward that goal.
I think living through the middle of anything – writing a book, training a child, achieving a degree or a goal, a difficult discussion with a spouse, working toward a dream – is hard. I personally like my tasks quickly completed, successful, orderly, drama-less, and appreciated. With as little effort on my part as possible.
I know, I know…dream on.
I should probably pick up the word persevere again this year and apply as necessary. I don’t think I’m quite done with it. Until then, I will anticipate the relief I will feel when this manuscript is finished.