Stuck in the Middle

I was reading a blog by another writer who mentioned (among other things) what I blogged about last week—comparing ourselves to others.

One thing she mentioned was that it’s okay to be in the middle because if you’re too high up on the success chart, it’s a major stress to keep yourself up there and constantly struggle to maintain that level of success.

I started thinking about that. Is it really okay to be in the middle? I mean, certainly, there’s nothing wrong with it. Most of the world is in the middle. But I guess the question is, should we fight and scratch to get to the top? Is it worth it? And what happens if and when we get there? Do we find ourselves empty, with no apex to strive for (as this other writer implied)? Or, once we get there, do we use that success to move laterally to other successes and actually get new and awesome experiences? Like celebrities who use their enormous success to do other things.

For example, a movie star who cuts an album. Or actors who write books or (gag me) get cooking shows. Or start their own clothing lines. Or put out perfume or makeup. You might think, shit, this person already has a successful acting career, why does she need to write books, too?

I guess the answer is, once you’ve gotten to the top of the mountain, you need to climb other mountains. I’d probably be one of those people because I’m never satisfied with one experience. I get bored. Even within the realm of writing, I get bored and I have to try my hand at different genres.

But for me, I wouldn’t mind getting to the top of the mountain. It doesn’t have to be Mt. Everest or the Himalayas. I’d settle for the Catskills or the Poconos, even.

How about you?




  1. I think you should always do what makes you happiest. If feeling secure or safe is what makes your world complete then don’t be ashamed..own it..but like so many I want bigger and better..not necessarily monetary but a feeling of self accomplishment. I was sick and unable to get out for 8 months and I learned then and there that life is to short to not pursue your dreams..but if your dreams are sitting on a porch..holding hands with the one you love..watching the world go by..I think I probably secretly envy you and your security and peace..but for now myself I will be looking for that next mountain top!


  2. An argument well made, R.G. But since we are so wildly diverse, surely the point is about climbing your own mountain, achieving the pinnacle of success according to your own yardstick. Others may be “better” or not, may win awards (gosh, wouldn’t I just love to win something) or not; the thing is to stretch for the furthest reaches of one’s own talent, since comparison with others is spurious. Success is after all, a matter of opinion, whether emanating from a panel of experienced and cued-in literati, or a thousand readers who like something cheerfully predictable and comforting. One reader may tell you your book is a masterpiece and has stayed with her, whilst another reacts against it. But don’t we all know when we have done our best work? It’s hard to plough the stony furrow of self-belief, but ultimately only the writer knows when she’s “there”, outside opinion notwithstanding!


  3. I would always strive for the top. I want to be as good as I can be at writing. I don’t think settling for being the middle is something I could ever do. But different people are different. Each to their own, I say.


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