7QTF: Moving Past the Saggy Middle


Linking up with Kelly and the rest!


According to NaNoWriMo word count goals (both regular and my own hyper-achieving insanity), I should be in the thick of my novels, at the halfway point and beyond, at what many writers call “the saggy middle.” Contrary to simplistic plot constructions (the triangle, pictured below), the climax is not exactly 50% of the way through the book. 24,999 words is a lot for falling action and a resolution.


So I’m in the throes of pushing past this large third of the book in which stuff has to happen, but it’s not the “big” stuff, and with more things getting added to my to-do list, it’s been hard. Getting through this slog is what tempts us wrimos to fail or give up, but I really, really don’t want to.


I also am getting concerned about my own literal saggy middle. Not only is Fall “eating season,” but being married (and more particularly, being home a lot m0re) has seen my healthy eating and exercising habits go kaput. Pants are not fitting, and not just because I’m “with sandwich,” but my hips have started what my mom calls “the spread.” Something’s gotta change, and again, slogging through working on this particular sagging middle is hard. Any motivation would be most welcome!*

*Note: my recent doctor visit confirmed I am healthy, at an appropriate weight for my height, not pregnant, but still. No person is supposed to consume the amount of sugar I do. The goal is healthy, and to not endure pants shopping.


November is also a kind of “saggy midddle.” It’s between the glories of Fall and the joys of Advent/Christmas. I refuse to decorate until at least the first Sunday of Advent, refuse to listen to Christmas music–and even then only secular “winter” songs. It’s weird to see commercials for holiday specials starting in two weeks in December. It’s weird to tell patrons at my library their materials are due in December. And it’s weird to have these gray, chilly days to push through to get to something new and exciting. For whatever reason, the holidays still seem so distant to me personally, and this month is not going so fast or flying by. I guess that means I should be able to enjoy it more, but right now, time just seems to sag. Again, have to push through!


The “middle” is also a state between a beginning and an end/resolution. In a summer writing program, we were given the word “liminal” to describe these in-between states, and I have to say again, being married but not pregnant/a mom is such a liminal position. The beginning–a move to a new town, a new job–was so exciting. And I have met people, but we’re not at the “end” of the friend-making process, so I’m in this saggy part of trying to reach out and get together with other women, but it’s hard. The ones I’ve met are either single or moms and it’s just tough. Being very shy, it’s a big deal for me to ask someone to coffee or to just sit and talk while the children play on the free gym in the mall. And I sometimes take the dating approach–it would be so nice if they expressed interest first, but they haven’t. So while I have made connections, we’re still in the awkward middle part of moving beyond chat buddies at work or church programs and to the nice resolution of “friend.” Any encouragement or ideas on how to make new friends, especially when your pool is in different stages of life?


Being a nuanced centrist on a lot of issues is also in its own way a saggy middle. I do have thoughts about things like the Starbucks cup (but so not going there. It seems to have died. Let’s not resurrect it), refugees, the presidential candidates, and so much more lately, but nuance can’t be adequately captured in a Facebook post, and all the trappings that come with expending energy on a blog post, well, weigh down on me. Plus, to capture the different thoughts I have, as opposed to a simple, clear, very-much-one-way position, then the piece will sag from all the sentences, and I may lose the reader. But again, although it is hard, I want to push through, because all too often, I think sensible, rational, complicated, nuanced positions need to be heard, and you know what, not shouted down in comments because of one line a person disagreed with. Or given that there’s no official Church teaching or declaration of material vs. formal cooperation with evil on a small decision, a space to civilly discuss differences. And most of all, being okay with each other even if we have not convinced the other of our viewpoint.


Speaking of not wading too much into “issues waters,” I actually do want to share a thought-provoking documentary series on early childhood called Raising America. One episode aired on PBS earlier this week; all videos are free to view here through November 30. Children’s issues are a particular concern and interest of mine, and I thought this series was interesting, and rather than  like this similar article in the Atlantic on daycare in the 40s, this documentary really was about the family, families “in the middle,” and how providing voluntary opportunities  for those who cannot do what others can (parent at home), is a good investment for everyone. To me, it’s a little like NFP, if subsidized health insurance covered test strips/OPKs, thermometers, and classes: not mandatory, there if you need it, and if you do, a benefit. One episode in particular demonstrated the economics of how programs could push families through the middle to get a great, successful return.


But if I have to be “stuck in the middle,” I am at least grateful to be with you, my sweet husband. So, so thankful for all that he does for us. We’re solidly in the middle as far as our home and such goes, but so, so rich in love and never poor in spirit. Hey, that’s not so saggy after all. 🙂


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