Halfway there. When I was below the age of double digits, car rides gave me a queasy stomach. My usual question after five minutes was, “Are we there yet?” And one of the usual responses, irrespective of the distance, was “Halfway.”
If halfway is somewhere between two points—a centrist, some one who is half-and-half—perhaps on the fence, or a moderate, or a middle-of-the-roader, then I occupy that place sometimes. But usually I lean toward one of the poles.
Halfway—was it a good audience? A tolerable audience.They didn’t boo but they often sat on their hands.
Full house or empty house? Neither, somewhere in-between. A moderate turnout.
I like the phrase in medias res. In fiction it means to drop down in the middle of things. The story begins in the middle.You don’t keep going back, back, back.You pick a point and begin your narrative. Sometimes you’ll dip back into a time before you entered the time line, but it’s just a momentary return.
I had offered to give a poetry workshop as part of the town’s offerings around the One Book reading project our town took on this spring. There was a memoir writing workshop a week ago, a day devoted to myriad activities surrounding the chosen book, and now a poetry workshop. I didn’t know how many people would show up. After all poetry isn’t a big draw and writing poetry can be downright frightening.
I made fifty copies of a poem, not that I anticipated that many people— but when we had a reading several years ago we attracted a large crowd. This was different. Here you carried a pencil and were expected to write.
Eight people showed up and four of those were friends. Two came from the committee that organized the entire town reading extravaganza and one woman came because she read the announcement in the library.
Five of the eight wrote really good poems—especially the woman who came because she wanted to get back to writing, At the end she shook my hand and thanked me for encouraging her to write.
I took my forty-two copies of the poem home. In terms of numbers I didn’t reach the halfway mark—
“Fiction, ” said one of the committee members, “is easy, but poetry is too difficult. I don’t understand it.”
Halfway. If I look at the fifty copies and the forty-two left I didn’t meet the halfway criteria. If I think of the four really good poems I guess I inch toward the halfway mark—after all there were eight people in the workshop.