And no, I’m not talking about running AWAY from writing. 🙂 I’m talking about the sport of running and writing. They’re more alike than you might think. With NaNoWriMo coming up, I’ve been looking at my writing habits and preparing. It made me start thinking about perspective.
I ran a 5K last weekend. While that’s not all that uncommon since I run about that twice a week, this one was an organized race over unfamiliar terrain. The first mile was a piece of cake. I had a good pace for me despite the cold air (I’m asthmatic). I couldn’t help but think that I was just getting warmed up and that I just might make my goal time of 33 mins. I was excited and ready to go.
And then we turned a corner and stretched out in front of me between the mile one marker and the mile two was a hill. I’m not talking about a gentle slope. I’m talking about a hill that stretched as far as I could see at about a sixty degree incline. For nearly half a mile, I concentrated on breathing and just putting one foot in front of the other. As I turned the corner at the turning point, I thought…”Wow, this is just like the middle of a book. It’s hard, but I made it! It’s all downhill from here.”
So, downhill I ran. And then, as I jogged around the bend in the road having gotten my breath back and geared up to pick up the pace to make-up that lost ground from the climb, there was another hill. While not as steep, it was intimidating, especially since I had just set my mind to a downhill mentality. Nearly at the top of it, I could see the mile two clock ticking. I wanted to cry. But I didn’t. I took a deep breath and started chugging up that hill. I crossed the second mile clock having added a minute and a half to my pace. I felt discouraged, but thought I could make the time up on the last mile. So I picked up the pace and ran on.
I turned the last corner to head back to the finish line and realized that there was no downhill portion to that last mile. The slope was gentle, but it was definitely uphill. By this time, my lungs hurt, my breathing was ragged, and my playlist wasn’t doing anything to motivate me.
I knew my goal was out the window. But I could still finish. I would not quit. And so I did. I crossed the finish line at 38:57 – a full six minutes off my goal. While there was satisfaction with finishing, the disappointment outweighed it.
As I walked to cool down and remind my body that oxygen was a necessity of life, grateful that my husband had brought my inhaler with him, I found a smile…because running and writing really are related.
When I start a book, I have this phenomenal pace. I’ve got my notes, my prewriting, my characters, and my outline to guide me. Those first three chapters are so easy! And then, I hit my first hill. My pacing may be off, or my character’s may have a moment of inconsistency, or a wrinkle has blown up my plot outline. No matter what it is, the urge to not climb that hill lingers with every keystroke.
As I muscle through the manuscript’s hills, I remind myself how good it’s going to feel when it’s finished. I mark off the calendar dates, chart the word-count, and watch the finish line draw closer with single-minded focus.
For NaNoWriMo, I’m working on DEFYING DESTINY, Ladies of St. George Book 3. For those of you keeping count, SAVING PRISCILLA is Ladies of St. George Book 2 1/2. 🙂 It’s a novella so I’m not quite sure how I’m going to label it. For NaNo, I wanted to pitch myself into a book that I could run start to finish in November.
Also, STEALING GRACE is still under consideration. I hope to have an update soon. 🙂 Stay tuned for updates as they become available.