“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
—Louis L’Amour

Don't Stop Writing in the Ugly Middle

A friend of mine is in the middle of writing a short story and he wants to give up. He has 2,000 words and none of it makes sense. He doesn’t know what he’s writing about. He doesn’t know why he’s writing in the first place. He’s lost faith.

Have you ever felt like this? I know I have.

How do you finish when you want to give up? How do you push through when you don’t know what you’re story is about?

Row Boat

Photo by Lemuel Cantos

Twenty Hours

While working on my latest short story, I realized every writing project I’ve ever worked on has felt like this at some point. The story was a mess. I had written 4,000 words of crap. The scenes were disjointed. There were different tenses in different sections. I had a ton of research that I didn’t know how to incorporate. It was ugly.

I thought about giving up. I thought about starting a new story that would be easier. I had lost faith.

But then I remembered an author who said it took him an average of twenty hours to finish a short story. I had only been working for eight hours, and so I decided not to quit until I had logged twenty hours on the story. Almost magically, the story started to mold together. Then, after a long Saturday afternoon of work, I printed out a solid first draft.

The Ugly Middle

Middles are always the hardest. In A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller said every story is like paddling a row boat to an island. When you first start, you feel like you’re making a lot of progress. The shore recedes quickly and the island feels so close you could touch it.

But once you get out into open water, it’s easy to think you’re not even moving. The shore you just left seems far away and the island you’re going to isn’t getting any closer. You’re not making any progress, and you start to wonder if you should just give up.

This is where most people, including myself, get stuck in their writing. We have no problems starting stories. We don’t even have a hard time finishing them. But the middle is a story graveyard, littered with corpses of books, blog posts, and articles.

If you keep going though, almost miraculously, the opposite shore appears. You’re almost there. You can tell you’re just a few paddle strokes from land.

Don’t Stop Writing

Don’t give up in the Ugly Middle. The break through will always come just after the hardest part.

Put in your twenty hours. Or your two hours. Or your five-hundred hours. Don’t let the resistance let you believe you will never be able to finish. You will. Just keep working.

Write through the mess. Write through poor grammar and awkward tense changes and switches in POV. Keep writing even when you know what you’re writing is worthless. It’s not about good or bad right now. That comes later. Just keep writing.

And when you can see the shore, when you realize you finally, at last, know what you’re short story is about, remember the feeling. You’ll need that memory for the next time you find yourself in the Ugly Middle.

Have you ever experienced the Ugly Middle? How did you get through it?

PRACTICE

Work on your work in progress today. Jump into the Ugly Middle and don’t lose faith.

Write for fifteen minutes. When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section.

And if you post, please give feedback to a few other writers.

Good luck!

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

  • I have this ALL THE TIME. I have dozens of openings/beginnings of stories saved on my hard drive, and about 3 that are actually finished. Wow. Thanks for putting it to me this way – it’s really encouraging. I will try rowing past the middle. 

  • Your friend sounds like he has a mess on his hands. You have to write in faith. You have to believe in what you have not seen. That there is land on the other side of the bridge instead of an abyss.

    • mariannehvest

      I like the idea that you have to believe in what you have not seen in reference to writing.  

  • my life story. just last night i was lamenting the mess that my piece is…in the middle of a short story and i have no clue which direction to go…
    its encouraging to read that everyone goes through the same motions…n we just have to plough on…

  • haguejason

    Thanks, Joe. I needed this today. I’ve been stuck in the ugly middle of my novel and wondering if I should shelve it. Must… keep… rowing…

  • I fear I have Writer’s ADHD!  Many unfinished projects, including 70,000 words of a shitty first draft novel hiding out somewhere on my hard drive. So…how about them Cardinals?!

    • CRXPanda

      I combat my ADD with videos within the plot of my current chapter.
      After you leave a cinema, how long does the movie stay in your mind?
      When I finish watching a film, my mind is still in the story’s “universe” for a few hours.
      Currently, I’m working on a sci-fi novel combining current NASA and the 1960’s teen scene… I parused through Netflix for old ‘beach blanket-Frankie & Annette’ flicks, and shows relating to current space exploration. After watching a selection, I found it easier to concentrate.

    • Your hard dive sounds like mine… I’m the process of turning that mess into something readable. I’ve moved from a half-written novel to a half-written novel and two half-written short stories.

  • Ah, yes. The ugly middle. This one story I was working on, I started about five or six drafts, finished one that was 20,000 words of awfulness, and finally was so burnt out I gave up on the novel. I didn’t give up on the story though. After a couple months away from it, I turned it into a 6,000-word short story. But what a tiring process of trial and error! 

  • mariannehvest

    I decided to start in the ugly middle, but I’ve been thinking about this story for a while.  I’m late to play cards and will comment upon other practices when I get home this evening.  

    She walked across the field looking down.   The toes of her white canvas tennis shoes were stained yellow with buttercup pollen.  The dogs, three of them, followed her.  The phone booth was at the edge of the baseballd diamond, beside a chain link fence.  She left the door open, so she could call the dogs if they started to run off.  
    She took the phone out of its cradle and put a quarter in.  She changed her mind and pressed the coin return lever.  She looked back toward the apartments.  She put the coin back in the slot, got the impersonal hum of the dial tone,  hesitated for one more moment, then called her mother.  
    “Hello”
    “Mama”
    “What honey?”
    “Mama I need to get a divorce and I don’t have any money to pay for it.” 
    “Well I will say, there’s nothing I’d rather spend my money on.” 
    She cried, and they talked.  
    She leaned against the phone booth wall, graffittied with the initials of teenaged lovers and with the obscene words that often follow that same sort of love, love that has to be advertised to be real. 
    She was thinking that her mother had never in the four years that she’d been married spoken a work against her husband, but now was all for a divorce.  She called up the dogs and went back across the field of buttercups to the apartment where her husband would be waking up now and pouring some coffee oblivious to what was coming.

    • Plumjoppa

       I like how this scene is so easy to picture,  without going overboard on details.  I especially like the description of the yellow buttercups and the white tennis shoes.  I think this could be a beginning, as well.  It pulls the reader in to wonder what happened to lead to this. 

      • mariannehvest

        Thanks  I appreciate your reading it.  

    •  Very vivid, but mom’s yes felt like it came too easy.  I was curious how she had gotten to this place in her life… had she chosen to use the pay phone because she couldn’t call from home?  was her husband dangerous?  It caught my attention.  Great description. 

      • mariannehvest

        Thanks Alisha.  

    • this is beautiful and so vivid, Marianne.  I’d agree with the yes coming too easy – so that bit to tweak, but the rest of is is so good… I’d love to read this story. 

  • The dreaded middle!  It’s where I tremble in fear of asking myself that most horrifying question: “What’s my story about?”  Oh, yeah, and, “What does my protagonist want?”  And, why aren’t my antagonists more merciless?  And what happened to my story engine?  And what made me write this story in the first place?  And why didn’t I get my plumbers ticket?  And maybe it’s not too late.  And why did I make that rule that I can’t have a glass of wine before 5 p.m.?  And…  and… and this is why there aren’t a whole lot of really good novels out there.  And why it’s true that those brick walls out there are there to defeat THE OTHER PEOPLE.  Not readers of The Write Practice!

  • OMG, every time. I was just ready to give up on my latest attempt when I decided to re-read Stephen Pressfield’s Turning Pro, and got inspired all over again. And it’s so good to see this and the comments – I’m not alone! Thank you!

  • This post couldn’t have come at a better time! Actually struggled so hard today I had to set a timer for myself. But I’m glad I did it.

  • The could not have come at a better time!  Just this morning I literally had word for word exact thoughts that you stated.  I was determined to finish a story I’d started in another 15 min practice, looked at it, decided it made no sense and was crap and would be way too complicated to finish…   I came here to get a new practice and leave that other deal in the dust.  HA!  Looks like I’m getting back to work.  Thank you for your timely post. 

  • I’m stuck in the middle right now. So glad I read this! I needed to hear this to know I need to just keep moving forward. Thanks! 

  • Julianausten

    I sometimes think you are a mind reader Joe! Back to the grind for me! Thank you, I think!

  • Didn’t make it to the end, but definitely made a chunk of progress.  Glad I didn’t give up! 

    “God damn it Twyla, put
    that kid back where you found it.”  Clay
    hisses, his voice muffled behind his bandana. 

     

    I jump, fumble, almost
    drop the baby.  Even facing forward, with
    my eyes pinned wide open, Clay has managed to sneak up on me—how does he do
    that, how does he move silent and invisible? 
    I can’t seem to get the hang of life on the run.

     

    I’m about to apologize—for
    what, I don’t know—but I stop when I see his face.  He’s wearing goggles, fat black band wrapped
    around his head.  He blinks behind the
    dusty Plexiglas.  “Where’d you get
    those?” I ask, wishing it had been me who’d found the goggles, him who’d found
    the baby.  

     

    “Dead guy around the
    corner.”  Then softer, “Twyla, he’s
    fresh…”  Clay let’s the words trail off,
    eyes the baby.  No need to say more.

     

    “I used to have a pair
    just like that… for skiing,” I say thinking of snow, craving ice.  My stomach growls.

     

    “Twyla, did you hear
    me?  The guy was fresh.  We have to get the hell out of here.”

     

    I nod.  The latest attack came by air, we’d heard the
    planes, felt the ground tremble; the Drainers would be here soon.  The goggles… if they’d seen the goggles
    they’d be back for sure, they’d never allow goggles to be left behind.  This war could be won on goggles, goggles and
    masks…

     

    This is what the world
    has been reduced to, dust, and ash and dirty tears, and cough, cough, cough and
    no matter how many times you cough, never having enough clean air to take a
    breath. 

    Every breath toxic…
    necessary. 

    The baby wiggles an arm
    free of her wrap—an old sweater I realize, a cardigan with big wooden
    buttons.  The babies’ eyes are flooded
    with tears, specks of gray dust, and darker flakes of ash float in the
    pools. 

     

    Tears…  So she—well maybe not a she, but easier to
    think of her as she than a he… 

    I shake my head, focus on
    the babies’ damp cheeks. 

    Start again… so she can still
    make tears—a good sign.  Or a bad one,
    depending on how you look at it. 

     

    “Give me the baby,” Clay
    says.

     

    I look around, as if I
    expect some nanny to come running around the corner—some fat woman with white
    nurses shoes and a giant bouncing bosom. 
    I imagine her clutching her heart, fanning her face… “Lordy, I thought I’d
    lost her, thank you Jesus!  God, I must
    have thrown her away by mistake.” 

     

    I laugh, bitter, and curse
    myself for opening the dumpster lid.  “I heard
    a noise, thought it was a cat, or maybe a raccoon, thought I’d kill it,” I say,
    explaining… stalling.  Fresh meat… that’s
    what I’d been thinking about.  Only this
    wasn’t the kind of meat I was hoping for. 

     

    “Pssst!” Clay is holding
    up a finger, crouching.

     

    I drop to my knees, make myself
    tiny, and work to arrange my street-made camouflage so it covers my arms and
    legs.  The garment was Clay’s idea, a
    patchwork collection of trash—old newspapers, gum wrappers, leaves, even a
    headless Barbie doll.   

     

    I hold my breath, listen…
    heavy booted footsteps, four distinct clomps, four… no… five identifiable
    rhythms.  Too loud, too confident to be
    one of us.  Drainers… has to be Drainers. 

     

    They are close but it’s hard
    to tell how close, everything echoes now that the world is empty.  Sound bangs through abandoned houses and
    empty dinners.  A single footstep is made
    huge in vast, vacant movie theaters, in foodless food courts. 

     

    The baby whimpers and I
    put a dirty pinky in her mouth, praying her soft sucking doesn’t give us away.   She clamps her lips, moves her tongue back
    and forth.  I feel the beginning of a
    tooth… ignore it… readjust my finger until I only feel gum.  I wonder when she last had a drink.  Not long ago. 
    No.  It had to be recent… her
    mouth is too wet, her tears too plump.  I
    picture her pink lips wrapped around a breast, pulling, sucking—her flat belly
    made round with swallow after swallow of milk. 
    The baby sucks harder, as if she too is thinking of milk.  Her face scrunches up in concentration.  My stomach growls and I’m tempted to take my
    finger out of her mouth, suck her hydration off my skin.   

     

    I try to swallow, but
    fear has commandeered my saliva, transformed it into adrenalin.  I still have a little water in my flask, left
    over from last weeks rain, but I need to save that for an emergency.  And anyway, I can’t risk the noise. 

     

    Clomp, Clomp, Clomp.  Closer now… definitely closer.   I pull the baby into my chest, clamp my eyes
    shut.  The babies’ head presses against
    my lips.  She needs a bath and a change…
    but there is still something innocent underneath the stench of life… something
    familiar.  I focus on that, block out the
    rest, and breathe as quietly as I can. 

     

    An image… my Toby, alive
    and clean, playing a game on his iPad. 
    He’d just lost his fist tooth, was excited to put it under his
    pillow.  He wanted me to check and see if
    there was an app that tracked the tooth fairy, like the one we’d watched Santa
    on.  I cried when I saw that tooth, tiny
    and white, so perfect. 

     

    “Mommy, why are you crying?”

     

    “You’re growing up.” 

     

    He grinned, wriggled his
    tongue through the space where his tooth used to be.  “Don’t you want me to grow
    up?” he asked. 

     

    “No. I want you to stay little forever,” I said, tickling him.   

     

    The tooth fairy never
    made it the blast came and half of the house crumbled.  I’d been in the kitchen pouring myself a
    glass of wine… Toby must have fallen asleep. 
    He’d been so worried about being awake when the tooth fairy came… and I
    was too busy to look for that app. 

     

    No.  Stop. 
    Not your fault… it’s a blessing Toby got out when he did.  I hadn’t known that way at the time.  No.  At
    the time I’d screamed and cursed God.  But
    God did me a favor.  I never had to watch
    dehydration steal Toby’s tears… starvation devour his will to live… fear turn
    him into a beast… a monster who would drink saliva from the mouth of a baby.   Toby died believing this world was good, that
    nightmares stayed in your head, vanished with the morning sun. 

     

    Clomp, Clomp, Clomp.  Something rattles the dumpster.  The lid screeches open, slams shut. 

     

    I freeze, lock eyes with
    the baby.  If I’d never opened that lid,
    never picked her up, I think, or if I’d put her back like Clay said… if I’d
    done any of those things, then they would have found her.  They’d be lifting her out of the trash right
    now.  She might have been the distraction
    Clay and I needed to escape.  I’m tempted
    to roll her free of my camouflage, just another can bounding down the
    alley.  But I’ve witnessed the Drainers
    at work, watched as they greedily sucked the light from their victims. 

     

    I look at the babies’
    tiny nose, half clogged with dust and I know she won’t survive, she can’t… better
    to get the end over with.  But I have her
    scent in my lungs, Toby’s scent.  It
    occurs to me this baby is some woman’s Toby and I kiss her head wishing she was
    mine, that things were different, hold my breath. 

     

    The Drainers are hissing
    something incomprehensible to one another, two distinct hisses, one a buzz, the
    other a drone.  The inhuman octaves sizzle
    up my spine, wrap icy hands around my neck. 
    I force my body to stay still, resist the urge to shiver… to scream, to
    cover my ears.  I’ve seen that too,
    plenty of times… seen people choose madness over light, watched them dim to
    darkness before my eyes. 

     

    More hissing—pulling,
    tugging, tempting me towards insanity. 

     

    No! 

     

    I concentrate on the
    babies eager sucks, focus on her warmth, imagine that warmth pouring into my
    body, nourishing me as thoroughly and I am I failing to nourish her.

     

    More clomping, only this
    time it’s receding.  I squeeze my eyes
    shut, not daring to hope.

     

    “Let’s move.”  A hand on my shoulder, I swallow my scream,
    see stars as I suck air into my lungs. 

     

    “But…” I look down at the
    baby. 

     

    Clay follows my gaze,
    puts a hand on my arm. 

     

    “But…”

     

    He doesn’t say a word,
    just lifts the baby out of my arms, carries her around the corner. 

     

    I think of Toby.  What would I want a stranger to do if they
    found Toby alone in a dumpster this close to nightfall?  I know the answer, but I refuse to give it
    words.  I shake my son out of my
    head.  His memory doesn’t belong in a
    place like this.  I have to believe the
    future holds a day when it might be safe to remember him… or why am I fighting
    to live?

     

    Clay is back, walking
    with purpose, his arms swinging by his side. 
    He strides past me and I hurry to follow… strip thought from my mind.  We walk in silence, me a few steps
    behind, our pace  just shy of a jog.  Each step releases another cloud of dust. 
    I grab my handkerchief and secure it around my mouth, fumble at my belt
    for the strip of gauze I used to think I was lucky to have, tie it around my
    eyes.  The world falls into a haze and I
    stare envious at the black band secured around Clay’s head.

     

    No one can explain the
    dust—unlike any dust the world has ever seen before—that’s what the scientists
    reported back when the airways still held information.   
     

    • Juliana Austen

      Powerful stuff! You have me hooked.

    • mariannehvest

      This is a great combination of dialogue and action.  I  think the part about the baby especially the description of him through Twyla’s eyes is exceptionally well written.   

  • Thanks so much for this article – it was exactly what I needed to read!! The ugly middle is my biggest enemy when it comes to writing but that analogy of the rowboat makes so much sense. Thanks 🙂

  • I used today’s practice to force myself to work on a short story that I have been putting off. Below is the tiny chunk I wrote out in my fifteen minutes:

    July 28th 2835 AD
    M.S.V. Rosetta

    Miranda sits beside him in the pilot’s chair, bundled up in a large brown snow jacket with a fur-lined hood. She looks at him expectantly.

    “What?” he asks.

    “Go.” She’s let up since they reached Jotun. The month on the ship was hell, but at least she’s talking to him now. That’s more than he can say for the rest of the crew.

    He looks at the control panel above him and flips two switches. “Oh, right now?”

    “Yep,” she says.

    “Umm…” The panel in front of him might as well be hieroglyphics. Every day Dr. Samayin shows him new pictures of the writing they found in the ruin as Adam might have a better chance of understanding them. “Which one is it again?”

    “Dammit Adam! Do you listen when I talk?” Miranda says.

    “Just tell me which one it is!”

    “The yellow one,” she says and flips it for emphasis.

    “You could have just told me…” He remembers the rest of the procedure from here. A press. A flip. Throttle. The engines roar to life and the ship hovers slightly off the snow-covered ground.

    Miranda nods, “Good. Now power us back down.”

    • mariannehvest

      This is interesting and well written, and in first person present (which I find hard to maintain  for long).  I like your characters. The relationship between is clear enough to draw me in already.  Good writing

    • hmmm… this peaked my interest. 

  • “Le secret que j’ai dit au jour,
    Et l’emporte avec mon amour
    Aux plis de sa robe p^alie!”
    The secret I told the day,And to carry it away with my lovein the folds of its pale robe!

    French was and always will be my weakest language. I finished singing  Faure’s ‘le secret’ and walked off the stage once the lights came off. It was a hot balmy night. I could feel beads of sweat accumulate across my forehead. 

      A young chef who was not that much older than me sat alone at the table. He sipped coffee and hummed the Faure tune. I wondered where he came from, he didn’t look Vietnamese… he looked Eurasian, he was probably half French and half Vietnamese like me. It’s a bit silly. I am half French but I really do suck at singing the language. My parents always encouraged me to learn French but I never really saw what the big deal was about it. French is always seen as the nice and sexy language and German is always seen to be Hitler’s language. If Hitler was French, I’m pretty sure that French would be an ugly language. 

      It makes me sad when I see people sit alone. 

    I asked the young chef “is this seat taken?”

    “Non Mademoiselle.”

    “Merci”

    “Why did you just say thank you? I didn’t invite you to sit down.”

    He had a smirk on his face. I wish I knew if he was playing with me or serious. 

    “Sorry”

    “I was kidding with you, so you’re the singer?”

    “Yes… I think that’s me. I hope it’s me… last time I checked I was the singer.”

    He smirked again and then he laughed. He had a peculiar laugh, it sounded like a girl’s laugh except chesty. Although, it was nice to listen to.

    • mariannehvest

      I like this setting and the idea of starting with the song.  The idea that if French were Hitler’s language would be ugly is interesting.  I would keep reading this. It’s unusual and I like it so far. 

      • Thanks Manianne. It’s supposed to be a romantic tale about a singer who meets a chef. It is set in Vietnam and the two characters are French Vietnamese (the French invaded Vietnam years ago). Thanks for the feedback, glad to know you liked it… I sort of thought that my practice there was quite average (I find it hard to write about romance, I mean I’m very naive in that department), glad to know that you liked what you read so far. 

  • Teresa

    And I thought ‘The Ugly Middle’ was it. Didn’t think I would ever leave it. Thanks so much Joe, you’ve given me hope.

  • I totally love this article, especially this:
    “But the mid­dle is a story grave­yard, lit­tered with corpses of books, blog posts, and articles.” I could so relate.   

  • Juliana Austen

    I ripped out the ugly middle – this is the result:

    A Hard Winter

    By Juliana Austen

     

    Old Bill walked slowly, scanning the pavement and checking the refuse
    bins just in case. He swooped on a half smoked cigarette, straightening it.  He smoked it down to the last as he waited
    with the students and the old biddies on the steps of the Grantham Public
    Library.

    At 9.00AM sharp the doors opened and they all poured into the stuffy
    warmth. Bill headed down the stairs to the reading room where the sun came in a
    big window in the mornings and an old radiator chugged out a decent amount of
    heat. He pulled over a couple of chairs and settled into one, took off his wet
    shoes and put his feet up on the other.

    “Ahh” he thought. “this is better”. It had been a rough night out and he
    was tired. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes. He must have drifted
    off because the next thing he knew the Librarian was looming over him.

    “You can’t sleep here!” she said shrilly. ‘We have Book Club commencing
    in half an hour. This is a library not a doss house.”

    “Frigid old bitch”. He muttered as he put his shoes back on.

    She flung open the windows. “I’ll have to get some air-freshener” She
    glared at him and he was surprised by the real venom in her eyes.

    Outside he walked around the back to the staff parking area. He knew her
    car.

    “That’ll teach you, you dried up old cow.” And he smiled as he unzipped
    his fly and pissed all over her wheel.

    #

    Geraldine sipped her red wine and sighed. It had been a difficult day at
    the library. The homeless just kept on coming. The economic downturn she
    supposed. Dear Mrs Armstong-Smythe had not said anything at Bookclub but really
    the air freshener had done little to disguise the smell – a ripe smell of unwashed
    body, a top note of alcohol and an underlying one of filth. Her car had been
    the final straw. She shuddered. “Enough” she thought. She believed she had come
    up with a solution. It was one that had worked well on the local cats. They had
    peed in her garden in much the same way. It had taken time to get the
    population down, her neighbour had kept getting new ones, replacement kittens
    although they had been easier to deal with. The large tom-cat had been a real
    challenge. She rubbed the faint scar on her arm. But she had prevailed and her
    garden was now unsullied by cat mess or spraying. The Library, she determined
    would be the same.

    She finished off her wine and went outside to her garden shed. There she
    unlocked the poisons cupboard and considered its contents. From the back she
    chose a brown bottle. It was quite old. Her mother had signed for it when it
    was still possible to buy this particular substance over the counter. There
    were newer, safer poisons now for chewing insects but this would do for the
    larger kind of vermin. More effective and less noticeable than rat poison, she
    had learnt her lesson with that.

    The brainwave of soaking cigarettes in the poison had come to her in the
    night.  She often found inspiration
    came to her in the small hours. The problem was she did not know how effective
    it would be; there was no literature on the effects of inhaling this particular
    poison.

    “Field trials,” she thought “that is what I shall have to do.”

    #

    Bill couldn’t believe his luck. A whole packet of cigarettes, just a
    couple gone – a decent brand too, none of this menthol shit. Bit of a funny
    smell and they were a bit damp – but Jeeze they’d dry out.

    #

    “Dead, whew! Very dead. Faaaar-out!”  Officer Carter exclaimed as he bent over the body of the
    homeless man. He had bedded down in the bus shelter opposite the public
    library.

    “Stomach upset I’d say – he ended up too weak to get to where he needed
    to go! Half a bottle of rum, empty cigarette packet – Indian take away – what a
    way to go!”

    “This is the third one this month, anything in it you think?”

    “Nah its just been a hard winter” his offsider remarked.

    • That sucked me in!  Sheesh, a murderous librarian… that could make for an exciting read. 

  • I will confess: I’m losing hope in the ugly middle.

  • Susan Anderson

    I got a chuckle out of this sentence: “But the mid­dle is a story grave­yard, lit­tered with corpses of books, blog posts, and articles.”

    I like the metaphor of a row boat on a lake. Out in the middle, there’s no land to stand on. It’s scary, it’s lonely. Then there is the fear that when you reach the shore, they’ll (publishers) tell you to turn back around and go back to where you came from.

    I have to say as a newcomer to this sight, that I am encouraged.
    I refuse to be discouraged.
    Thank you.

  • Darcy Elizabeth

    “My nephew is a fine young man, is he not?”

    paused in the middle of a stitch wondering if the remark was simply that of a
    doting aunt wanting everyone else to like her favourite nephew or if she was
    she looking for something more.

    “The Reverend Mr. Havergal has many admirable qualities.” I answered cautiously, pushing my needle through the cloth and out again on the other side.

    You seem to enjoy his company…”

    The Widow paused as if waiting for my reaction. I felt my body tighten but continued with my sewing as if unaffected by her statement. She pressed on “… and he in turn does not appear insensitive to your charms.”

    I came to the end of the seam, made two small finishing stitches and reached for the scissors. As I did so I glanced up at the widow. She was watching me closely. I felt a familiar blush rush to my face. Hastily taking up the scissors I turned my attention back to the thread that needed snipping.

    “Ah…it is as I thought… Has he spoken to you at all about this?”

    “No, Mam”

    “Hmm, I see that I shall have to take him aside and talk to him myself.”

    “Oh, please don’t!”

    “And why not? Sometimes men need a little prodding. He may not have faced his own feelings, or he may be hesitant because he is unsure of your feelings towards him.”

    I shook my head vehemently, but she plunged on.

    “…Don’t worry, I won’t say too much. I will just let it slip in passing that you are as fond of him as I am. There can’t be any harm in that.”

    “Oh no, you musn’t. It would be quite inappropriate given the circumstances.” I blurted out, without thinking of how it might sound.

    “The circumstances? To what circumstances are you referring?”

  • Luna

    I am Not a writer let make me said it clearly, at least I never felt like it, since poems are the only things I can finish. No wait there was also a story I wrote when I was little (which was actually fun to reread later because it was clearly awful). But I can’t write anything long because I feel like I’m wasting my time. I just want to finish a novel I started a long time ago but you see I already know the end so what’s the fun in writing ? I wrote it until 20 chapters to throw them after. Now well, I think I’m giving up, but that damn idea doesn’t want to leave me alone ! What do I do now ?

  • Alys Gaillarde

    I needed this today.