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  • Writer's pictureJane Rubin

Faster without a Bustle! - aka The Muddy Middle

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

In the last couple of months, I've struggled writing my way though Part 2 of Tillie’s Story, a historical novel - my first big retirement project. I say struggled, because the middle is reputed to be hardest to write and unsurprisingly often referred to as the ‘Muddy Middle.’ I have politely absorbed much constructive criticism from my Knights of the Round Table beta readers. Of course, they are all correct with their comments, and I humbly listened, but I have to let out a little steam anyway before I tackle the final writing bonanza, Part 3. This is my thank you note to my unflagging readers.

“I heard something quite strange, “ I said as I settled into my soft arm chair and set my hot tea and warm rugelach on the side table. I had stopped at Moische's Bakery on my way home from back-to-back meetings at the shul. 'I have become so indispensable that the Rabbi has me on every damn committee. But it's nice to be in demand,' I thought with satisfaction, ‘finally.'

"What did you hear?” asked Sadie, who was still looking forlorn after the loss.

"There’s a woman who claims to be my distant relative writing about our lives as if we actually did anything interesting.” I answered. "I heard she’s writing a book!"

“Gosh, you’d think she would have picked the Astor's or Vanderbilt's uptown - now, they have some insane stuff going on. And those crazy Scotts, the Carnegie’s? Now that's something!” Sadie laughed. “Why us? We’re just poor Jews with few nickels to rub together trying to make a living? Do you think she’ll make us rich?”

"And get this! Her friends keep asking for more tension! Good Lord, everyone and his Uncle has come down with Consumption. We hear a cough and immediately build a coffin! Isn’t that enough?" I threw my hands in the air and shook them at the heavens.” If I had my way, I’d be perfectly happy slipping into a two year fugue state! Now, that’s what I call a vacation.

“Yea, she’s some busy body too. It’s galling! She even knows what’s going on in my bedroom!” I answered.

“Ha, is it worth writing about? That Abe of yours is a mench, but is he any good?” Sadie winked.

I laughed, “He may be a good man, but he’s a bad boy under the covers! I’ll keep him even if he can’t add a column of numbers in that handsome head of his.”

“Speaking of tension, I really think she should have knocked off Hannah or Rivka and not my darling.” Sadie drilled her eyes into mine. “Did you have anything to do with that?”

I chuckled and said with a haughty air, “Get used to it sister, you’re just a secondary character. You’d better hold on tight to your two boys and stop ticking me off!”

Sadie’s eyes filled with hot rage. She jumped from her chair and lunged toward me. Her pale porcelain skin turned scarlet as she unleashed her jealousy and rage. She reached toward my neck with her two extended hands. I dodged to avoid her and grabbed a fireplace iron from the hearth and raised it over my head. I couldn’t help but feel pleased at how agile I had become without the wretched bustle undergarment.

I stopped and said, “What’s that vile smell. Good Lord, what now?"

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