I’m officially in that age group that has to watch out for a sagging middle.

I used to be able to eat a picnic table for lunch. Not anymore. My metabolism actually needs me now. It used to get along just fine all by itself, like a garburator on steroids. Now it wants to sit down and talk about my food choices. It wants me to pull my half of the load. Never thought I’d be at this point. Never even knew I had a metabolism, actually. It was just THERE. It did it’s thing, I did mine. Now that it can’t quite keep up, I notice it. Panting. Bent over double saying, “Wait up! Can’t we be friends?” But I don’t want to be friends. Isn’t it supposed to be my servant? It’ all about me, isnt’ it?

I’m working on a mystery novel right now and loving it. I began strong. I think every single scene so far draws the reader in and makes them want more. I’m on a roll. The problem is my word count. I’m only a quarter way through and I’ve used up half my plot. I need more substance, more action to explore, in the middle (a typical novel is about 85,000 words, I’m sitting at 23,200). So I brainstorm: Maybe a blimp could crash in the middle of town and release toxic gas that signals aliens in orbit to attack using nothing but silly string. That would add meat to the middle. Or maybe a law firm begins marketing green jell-o laced with a chemical agent that causes people to go out and buy meat loaf in mass quantities just in time for baseball season.

Naw, that’s not right. But there has to be something!

It’s easy to begin strong. Most people can do that. But when the middle of something approaches, it’s easy to lose steam or sag or gain weight or baggage or a bad attitude. It’s hard to follow through, isn’t it? I think so. And the thing is, the knockout ending kinda depends on the middle building on the great beginning. But I want a knockout ending. I want to finish well – both my novel and my body and especially my life. But reacting childishly isn’t the solution. Going out and buying a man toy for my midlife crisis is like staging an alien invasion for the heck of it. That doesn’t solve the problem.

Oh God, deliver me from a sagging middle! Or maybe better yet, don’t let me settle for one. But also guard me from pushing my way into crashing blimps and toxic green jello conspiracies just for the sake of excitement. I want a real six pack, a real captivating plot line, a real meaningful midlife. I’m on my way, I think — I just don’t want to blow it.

Know what I mean?