The Middle of Things

The Middle of Things: Advice for Young Writers by Andrew Soloman is one of the best pieces I’ve read in a long, long time. If it made any logical, and legal, sense to do so, I’d quote the entire thing here. Instead, a few snippets that touched me deeply:

The worst mistake anyone can make is to perceive anyone else as lesser. The deeper you look into other souls—and writing is primarily an exercise in doing just that—the clearer people’s inherent dignity becomes.


Say that your current relationship to writing has been like falling in love: we exalt falling in love as the finest of all possible experiences. But the reason people marry and stay married is that the middle, when it can be made to work, far outclasses the beginning. Ask people who have been happily married for a decade or two whether they would like to start all over again, and you’ll find that they mostly wouldn’t, even if some are tempted by the occasional dalliance. It gets to be that way with your writing, too, as you get an ever-clearer sense of what interests you, what you can do, what you’d like to be able to do. Your mature work is the outcome of your early work: that there can be no meaningful middle without a meaningful beginning. But the middle is as joyous as enduring love.


Never suppose that the humorous is the enemy of the serious. Middles can get ponderous, weighted down with their own importance. Lightness is a gift of the beginning—try to keep it with you for the whole stretch.

Go read the whole thing at the New Yorker.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: