I am about to be visited by one of my sisters and my niece. They are flying in from Missouri next week. I am very much looking forward to seeing them, and entertaining relatives does have the benefit of making me clean the house from top to bottom. But I can pretty much predict that while they're here, I will fall even further behind with my writing. I started my latest manuscript with a great idea, a burst of energy, and a lot of inspiration. But I'm slogging through the quagmire of the middle right now, and the fact that I can't seem to carve out any extended length of time to work on it doesn't help any. Any author knows that skill and inspiration are only part of what you need to successfully write a book. What separates the men from the boys is sheer will and the discipline to carry through to the end.
When you're working in the middle of a novel, there may come a moment when you wonder if you're ever going to be able to get it done. You know where you want to end up, but you're not entirely sure how you're going to get there. Sometimes I feel frightened, and wonder if I still have it in me. Will I find my way out of this maze, and do it in such a way that I bring the reader along with me?
I try to comfort myself with the thought that I get this feeling in the middle of every book I write. And I'm not the only one. On May 11 of last year, Vicki wrote a spot-on post on this site about the 'soggy middle' of a novel.
On another topic, I've been following with interest the thread on short story vs. novel writing. For most of my youth, I only wrote short stories. Then for many years, I alternated between long novels and short stories and poems of various lengths. For the past decade, I've done only novels, and think that I would find it difficult to write an effective short story, now. The forms all require different skill sets, different writing muscles. As noted in previous entries, some writers have an easier time with one than with the other. I think, though, that practicing any form of writing improves your skill in all the others. There is nothing like poetry (or ad copy?) to teach you how to create an image with a few well chosen words. And to create a good short story, an author has to learn to write a complete tale beginning, middle, and end, in one scene.
Speaking of Vicki Delany, I'm happy to not that she is joining me as one of the regular bloggers on the Fatal Foodies website. We Fatal Foodies are mystery authors whose work features food in all its glorious configurations. So if you like food and mysteries, come check out the site and Vicki's very first post tomorrow.