There was a song back in the 60s—I think Dionne Warwick, among others, sung it. The lyrics were:
“My love has no beginning, my love has no end;
no front no back and my love won’t bend.
I’m in the middle, lost in a spin.”
That’s sort of how I feel right now about the book I am working on. But things are just a little different from the lyrics of that song. I do have a beginning and I do have an end. They’re both coming along nicely, but I just don’t have a middle and, indeed, it’s left me in a spin.
I’ve never had this happen before. I always have a complete story in mind when I sit down at the keyboard and begin banging out a book. Oh, I’ve spent a lot of time working on the plot of this one, except for the big donut hole in the middle. I knew it was there. I just kept assuming something would fall into it that made sense and I’d move on with the rest of the story. Well, I’m still waiting and so far I don’t see that Fed Ex truck roaring down the highway in my brain with a box full of “middle.” Okay, I get it. This is my task; I’m the one who has to get it done.
I suppose I could read one of those writers’ advice books that helps you with things like structure and plot. No doubt I’d pick up a few suggestions I could work with. But that’s like cheating, kind of like doing one of those paint-by-number paintings. You’re just filling in the blank spaces that somebody else has already predetermined in shape and size. Nah, not me.
I though too, I could try that method they use at motivational workshops. You know the one. In this situation I’d tack all the beginning pages of the manuscript up on one wall. Then I’d tack all the end pages up on the opposite wall. Next, you and I, along with a bunch of others in the room, would throw things up onto the wall in the middle. Eventually, stuff would begin sticking on the middle wall and we’d all keep narrowing it down until—eureka!—we have the middle story line for the book. But if I do it this way, then I have to add a lot of names to the author line on the cover…unless I just condense it to “Written by Marc Kuhn and the Wall.” I’m not too keen on this idea to tell you the truth. It’s not that I don’t appreciate everyone’s efforts; it’s just that I am a selfish individual and I do not want to share the credit for writing the book.
Another idea I had was to skip the middle altogether. If the front and back are so good, maybe I should just embellish them and then butt them up together. I’d just squeeze out the middle and add a transition line that says something like “…years passed and then…” That might work. Then again, it might not. I can hear the reviews now: “Mr. Kuhn writes a great story, but it has no middle.” Or, “…a thrilling saga that sends you in a tizzy from the first page to the last, but not in the middle…” Yeah, that’s what they’d write, stuff like that.
So I guess I am stuck. I shall just have to wait it out until I get unstuck. I am sure it will resolve itself in due time, but until it does I will suffer constant anxiety thinking about it. I’m on middle ground but I have nothing to stand on…I’m in a spin.