Posted by: jeannineatkins | August 4, 2009

The Muddle of the Middle

Wasn’t it last week that I was all braggy and ecstatic about naming chapters in the double digits? Well, I’m still at Chapter 11. And not really. I made a plot change which sent a lot of scenes rolling and unraveling. Some were chopped. I salvaged a sentence or two in others.

I was feeling kind of bummed when Lorriane lorrainemt, who’d been hard at work on Chapter 11 of her novel, wrote in a comment: “Yay for decisions that make us go backward to go forward.”

Could I have a better Chapter 11 buddy? Thank you, Lorraine, for the reminder that what matters is whether the change is for the good. Who’s counting? Well, we do. But I love the idea that counting backwards also works.

And thank you readers and supporters and company-keepers for taking deep breaths with me and hanging in. It’s going to be a slow slog back to Chapter 11, but you help remind me that I’ll make it. And somewhere along the way I’ll get a comment from you or one of my characters that shoves a sentence into exactly the right place. I’ll creep forward, tip backwards, shuttle sideways, and stay alert for the magic.



  1. yes, breathe — I too sit with a pile of unravelled yarn of a story that I am trying to knit into a new shape… I am confident your magic will appear!

  2. I’m with you, Jeannine! Lorraine’s the best, and I, too, am deeply grateful to my LJ friends for their wisdom and insights.
    Here’s to working your way through Chapter 11, and to the magic that’ll reveal itself to you in the process.
    (hugs…and a gentle nudge)

  3. Good luck with your knitting, Jen. It’s a comforting metaphor. Nothing must be lost — just reshaped.

  4. Thanks for the words, hugs, and nudge, Melodye. I’m feeling better already — nothing like a little public freaking out to settle my breathing. That and a nice warm breeze and, rare thing this summer in Mass, a blue sky.

  5. I saw that comment and loved it. I am all for counting backwards!

  6. Ugh, that slogging through is no fun. But you’ll get there. 🙂

  7. If counting backwards works for you, I know I’m in good company!

  8. Thanks, Jill. Hope your August projects go well.

  9. Oh Jeannine, I can’t tell you how inspiring you’ve been to me. I know that I’ll be in your shoes with Quince when (not if!) I finish this first draft, and there will be so much to chop and change. I’m not even going to think about it!
    But I’m following your progress–backward, forward, sideways–and seeing that though it’s hard as heck, it’s not only doable, but magical. I’m with you, Jeannine!

  10. Aw shucks, thanks Melodye–I’m feeling loved today. LJ may be shrinking people-wise, but not in wisdom and support.

  11. Yes, yes, wise to stay with what is and try not to peer ahead into the darkness. The summer heat reminds me that a slow pace can work just fine.
    So lovely to be inspiring each other! xo

  12. In bankruptcy, Chapter 11 means reorganization. Perhaps this is not a coincidence.

  13. It is in the struggles of back and forth and cut and add and unraveling and rerolling that stories come to life. I never trust something that just lays itself down the first time.
    It doesn’t make it any easier but you are so not alone. Flyboy and I are doing the dance too and I’m not even as far as a Chapter 11. It’s hard to trust that we have done this before and we will do this again but we have and we will.
    And you will make the magic happen again.

  14. Hmmm, bankruptcy and reorganization, I hadn’t thought of that, which I’m afraid do seem kind of apt. Sighing deeply, forging onward, with occasional, still, forays back.

  15. Oh it does make it easier to feel I’m not alone, Susan! Good luck with your unravellng and rerolling toward magic. Sending your words and faith back to you: it has happened before and will happen again.

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