Saturday, January 31, 2009


Having pushed enough coffee into my system to kill 56 Mormons at 100 yards, an interesting (at least to me) parallel between my running ultra marathons and writing novels occurred:

At the start of an ultra, I'm all jittery and giddy with excitement. "Who KNOWS what's gonna happen?!"

The same can be said for the beginning stage of outlining a long-form story: "I can't wait to see how this all develops!"

A few miles in to, say, a 50 mile race, the blood starts pumping and I'm all a-yammerin', blathering about planning for the next 8+ hours, what I'm gearing up to eat, drink, when to rest...

Exactly where I'm at around page 10 or so while tapping away on the computer. "Then *this* character will take *this* course of action, and then *that* thing will go *this* way. Oh goody goody (say I, rubbing my hands together all nerdy-like)..."

Thennnn, mile 20 rolls around, and I have to fight the urge to think, "Oh hell, I'm not even halfway there." Instead, I press on to the next aid station, thinking only in 4-8 mile increments.

Unsurprisingly, right around the halfway point in writing a novel, my guts drop to my ankles when I begin to realize, "How much further? Wait. Wait. Just write this chapter/page/paragraph/sentence/word..."

I suppose I endeavor to tackle grand goals. The questioning is a mere fraction of the process. Pardon me while I toss myself on the therapist's couch and scratch this one out o' my skull, but I believe I set forth on these journeys not for the payday at the end and/or finish line (or, as in the case of ultras, the beers and burger), but for the experiences along the way: Meeting new faces, flashes of discovery, tears of frustration, peaks, valleys, ditches, ruts to dig out of...I open my arms and heart and welcome them all, and when the harsh surface of "The Wall" smashes my legs, or when writer's block wedges itself into my cranium, all I need to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other until I'm up and running once again.

And repeat when necessary.


Mike said...

"Writing a novel is like running 50 miles." Now there's an analogy I can relate to!

fatozzig said...

(((sigh))) I would love to be able to wrap my mind around writing a book, but then I read your blog, and you have a such a wonderful way of writing, and realize I wouldn't have a chance in hell of getting anything published. Not to mention it would probably take me 20 years to complete one. Althoooo, I am constantly throwing around the idea of writing a book about my mom. Just have no idea where to start.

rustyboy said...

Mike: HA! yeah, that's perspective for me right there. I appreciate it.

Leslie: I thank you for the kind words. I'm my own worst critic, and it's taken me quite awhile to toss off the shackles and just write. I'd love to hear stories about yer maw! My tip: Start from the beginning and finish at the end :)