What Do You Say When You’re in the Middle of a Marathon?
I’m neck deep in the least sexy part of the creative process: the never-ending middle. I’m far from the exciting beginning, which is always full of hope, and just as distant from the satisfying end when it all comes together successfully. This is the desert of the middle. All I see around me, for miles and miles and miles, is nothing but sand. I know that if I don’t keep moving I’ll die on these dunes yet it’s so fucking hard to stay motivated.
Other parts of my life are stuck in the deadly middle as well. Rebuilding post-cancer, post-marriage, post-IT has taken so much longer than anyone expected. If we keep going with the desert metaphor then I’m finding myself increasingly sandy these days, both in temperament and physicality. I’m easily irritated and quick to lose my patience. I feel weary from the constant grinding of my body and mind.
On top of all that, it’s a boring part of the journey. Not because the work lacks excitement, but because it’s the same kind of work, day in and day out. Every time I’m asked What did you do today? I have the same damn answer: Worked on manuscripts, author meetings, and maintaining the business. It doesn’t change. It hasn’t changed for years now. This is the part of building a business and career that no one talks about. Or when they do talk about it, others quickly lose interest and move onto something else.
The bitch of it all is that this is an utterly essential part of getting anywhere in life. You HAVE TO GRIND to achieve your goals. There aren’t any shortcuts. There are plenty of ways to make things more efficient or quicker or smoother, but you still need to put in every ounce of work necessary to carry your dreams all the way to fruition.
I know once this is all said and done, I’ll have plenty of stories about the scrappy beginnings and gratifying ending. The drudgery of the middle will fade from my memories along with all their anxiety, frustrations, and moments of despair. I get to keep the good parts while excising the mundane.
I guess this post is part shout into the void and part memento, so that if I ever decided to aim for something grand again I’ll know to expect the pain of the long-suffering middle.
Photo © Gabriel Novo