Middle of the Road

middle-of-the-road-thumbOver the weekend I had numerous holiday engagements and during small talk I received the question, “How’s the book going?” about a billion times. My answer was always to shrug and say, “It’s going.”

This happened so often that I started to wonder why I didn’t have a more robust answer for these people. A lot of them were readers and would no doubt appreciate some sort of tantalizing hints about what’s happening in the world of Matthew and Epp and Mary and Bartleby. But I never dropped these hints.

Here’s why.

For us authors, the middle of a book is stunningly dull. There is pretty much no sense of accomplishment as, day after day, you hit your word count and plod your way towards your ending. There is no sense of wonder as you write scene after scene that you’ve already gone over in your head enough times to make them feel repetitive and boring to you. There is no excitement in handling the characters that are so far from their conception and yet so far from their realization that they are just a hollow feeling bunch of sock puppets.

For you readers the time it takes from the beginning of a book to the end is measured in weeks if not days. For me it’s measured in months if not years. I honestly don’t know if I can remember my opening scene right now without peeking, that’s how long it’s been since I thought about it. By the middle of a book the beginning of a book is well beyond “no longer fresh in my mind.” It’s damned near forgotten.

This blows.

And yet, not two days ago, there was a very real burst of…well it wasn’t excitement as I met my word count for the day. Excitement is too strong a word. But there was a jolt of something to be sure because for a brief moment the end, that wonderful and beautiful thing, sort of seemed in sight for me. And even though estimates are awfully hard to do with word counts and expected book lengths, I sort of feel like maybe I’ve passed my halfway point.

Maybe I’ve rounded second and am on the back nine with two quarters to go. Yahtzee.

Maybe this will stop seeming like such a pointless grind in the near future.

My fingers are very much crossed.