Middles get a bum rap. Sometimes they’re not so bad. Middles are usually things in progress, at neither extreme of beginning (incompetence) or ending (mastery). The pandemic has been difficult because it’s been one long middle, with only glimpses of an end. Unlike the pandemic though, the middle of an enjoyable process is a pretty okay place to be.

I just past the mid-point of my first term in my Master’s program. It’s going smashingly. I’m kicking myself that I waited this long. There is a qualitative difference in my growth that is difficult to capture. Having spent so many years reading craft books and reading and writing, there is nothing mind-blowingly new, no extra-secret secret I’ve been let in on (yet). The difference is the expectation I have on myself, the permission and expectation to grow and develop. It’s like I’m out of the “who would publish this?” mindset and into a “what’s the best you can do with this story?” Learning more and more about this wacky imagination of mine, and my advisor, Bret Lott, has been supportive and encouraging and has given me a yearlong reading list of “my people”.

As I prepare my next packet’s story (about student housing haunted by a ghost who loves David Hasselhoff), I am thinking a lot about work versus the work. Artists use that phrase a lot, but it’s a very different thing than work elsewhere. It’s not assigned, not driven by external expectations, yet no less real.

On another note, I’ve been a fan of crosswords for many years. Probably took hold in medical school and got me through all the immunology lectures. My NYT streak has been going well:

But I got to try my hand at the real stuff this past weekend at the ACPT. I was registered to go last year, but got to try the virtual format, and have a much better idea of just how high the bar gets. How’d I do? About a thousand contestants in the individuals bracket.

509th. Pretty much the middlest middle I could hope for!

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