There is something about being in the middle. As comfortable as it might be, it can be blinding too.
I just spent a diligent couple of weeks doing two start-to-finish edits of my latest novel, Saving Steven. I set myself a goal of getting it out to beta-readers by the end of January — and didn’t make it … but got close and it’s out there now.
And in working so hard at it, I was caught in the middle of it: caught by those vivid images and deep emotions that carry the writing forward; weighed down by my characters sitting on my shoulders insisting that what they did and felt needed to be gotten right.
Then a few days later, after it had already been sent out to half-a-dozen beta readers, I realized a flaw in the flow of plot. Upon being unembedded now I’m aware that a carefully constructed character would’ve been doing something different than I had him doing at a particular point in the novel. It is more an error of omission than commission, but still. My mind let out that anguished ARGH!
Caught in the middle of the work, I was blinded to something that I could only see once I had extricated myself.
And, that’s how the fun begins.
Oh, the fix is going to be relatively easy, once I’ve stopped beating myself up for already sending it out to those poor souls who are reading it as it is.
But then came the thought that just as I got myself embedded in the way this peculiar little novel unfolded… well, maybe those readers too will just end up caught in the middle of it too, not notice that glaring error. Or if they do, now knowing from this blog it’s there, they will have that ah-ha moment and let me know they found it.
And I think I might make this into a Where’s Waldo sort of thing. You remember, that nerd in the red-striped shirt who loved to hide. What fun we’ve had with that, the way we’d get annoyed with ourselves when we couldn’t find him then have that bursting ah-ha when we did.
As an author now, I’m no longer in the middle of my old psychologist self … Well, at least I hope I’m not. If I was, at this point in the blog I would lapse into an explanation about how we habituate to the things we see around us all the time, stop noticing them. You see, our brains are primed to detect novelty. When the same something is in the same place we stop seeing it.
Oops, I did it again, that psychological explanation thingy. ARGH. (note: second argh in this same blog!). Maybe that little lapse is because I’m fingers-to-keyboard with the same aging MacBook that used to record my clinical notes and write my reports. Or maybe I’m just getting old and have a tendency to live in the past, like my main character from Saving Steven.
But setting that aside, now as a writer I’m right into novelty. It’s fun to embed something totally surprising in the midst of what seems to be absolutely ordinary and routine. There’s a ton of that happening in Saving Steven. I aim for my readers to have that amazing experience of I-didn’t-see-that-coming but I-can-see-how-it-could. As an author I find myself enjoying making those middles to put something into, and that’s just about as much fun as the moment of novelty. Both of those elements are equally important to create the effect.
So what is emerging for you, blog reader, as you come to the end of yet another blog? As you look up at familiar surroundings what do you now notice? What has your eye glossed over that suddenly emerges again, to amuse or annoy or animate or make you wonder how it got there to begin with and what you can do it with now that you notice it again?
Ah-ha! There it is. You’ve got this.
Oh, and by the way. If you want to play literary Where’s Waldo with my fourth novel, please be in touch — firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 2023 - Can we have a little heart here please?
December 2022 - A story about story
November 2022 - Facing One's Fears
October 2022 - Transitional folk
September 2022 - Transitions
August 2022 —At the other end of life's journey
July 2022—The problem with what emerges.
June 2022 — So who am I doing this for anyway?
May 2022 - Wait for it ... wait ...
April 2022 — Someone called me a Nazi.
March 2022 — Shush! Don't tell anyone.
February 2022 — So does life imitate art? Well, maybe sometimes.
January 2022 — The two most powerful lines in the book.
December 2021 — About time and being human.
November 2021 — Not a tidy little murder mystery
October 2021 — Flow versus focus.
September 2021 -- It's beautiful because it tells the truth.