The Morass in the Middle

So, here’s the thing: writing a novel? It takes time. Shiny, new things wink and glitter, while your “graceful idea” metamorphoses into sludge between your brain and the page. You drag yourself to the altar of Novel, sacrificing yet another day to the Unending Drudgery story that’s eating your life.

Does that mean it’s a bad novel idea? Should you just pack it in and start over, fresh? Maybe pick up one of those shiny short story ideas flirting from the shadows instead?

Not necessarily. It may just mean that you’ve hit the Swamp in the Middle of the Novel. I’ve been assured it’s “a thing,” this bogged-down sensation where you think you’ll never be done. I’ve been assured that the only way to overcome it is to stride on through it. In other words, keep on writing.

I’ve just found the edges of this Swamp inside my novel. Fortunately, early planning has my way mapped out for me, so I have a trail of crumbs (or, in this case, Scrivener’s 3″ x 5″ cards) to follow, preventing me from wandering in circles. All I have to do is write the scene that I’ve put onto that card. Then the next one, and the next. See? It all works, I tell myself. And reading over the flow of those cards, it does. So I have faith, and just keep writing.

T-shirt found at Buzzy Multi-media that sums it up!

T-shirt found at Buzzy Multi-media that sums it up! While there, read some fiction, too!

Today, I found this T-shirt over at Buzzy Multimedia. It pretty much sums it up, and it made me laugh out loud. I mean, how perfect is this? Looking at this, I’ve just hit Step 5: “I’m still writing my book.” Looks like the real fun is still to come :-/

Oddly enough, I’m still jazzed about the story, and about the characters. I think that just knowing “The Swamp” exists, that it sucks in the most dedicated novelists, is helping me to stay motivated, and that keeps me writing my way out of the middle. To paraphrase: All who wander are not lost; some are just writing a novel.

Also, knowing that revision is a thing that exists for a reason–wow! That’s another huge relief. I’m not trying to make this “perfect” the first time. I’m just trying to get through it, you know? Perfection–or my attempt at it–can come in later drafts.

If you have experience getting through the Swamp, I’d love to hear it in comments. If you’re there in Swampland, keep going. We’ll come out on the other side, and have a first draft of a novel to show for our work. And how awesome will that be?

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About M.E. Garber

I'm an itinerant Ohio-born speculative fiction writer now living in north central Florida.
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