Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Running as a metaphor for, well, damn near everything, but specifically writing in this case

I ran a half-marathon on Sunday. I'm pausing here for all your applause
and oohs and ahhs. I totally deserve them.

I am a big girl and I mean that euphemistically. I weigh a lot and I have
a relatively bodacious set of tatas, if I do say so myself. I was not
built for this sport and I pretty much suck at it, but I keep doing it. To
run any kind of race at all (and by race, I mean participate) I have to
push past my own perceived limits, just like I have had to push past my
own perceived limits as a writer. I never thought I could write a romantic
suspense novel. I didn't think I had the logic to create a linear plot
that had twists and turns and reversals. I didn't think I had the
imagination to write an urban fantasy and create a shadow world within my
own. Now I've written both, one that Publishers Weekly says "takes off
like a rocket" and one that it says is an "exciting, sexy, and hilarious
debut."

Sometimes running isn't much fun. While there are days where I breeze
along, feeling strong and healthy and in control, there are just as many
where I feel like a decrepit old woman who can barely put one foot in
front of the other. It doesn't matter. Weekly mileage is important and the
only way to achieve that is to run on days when it's not fun as well as
the ones when it is fun. Writing is just the same for me. I have to lay
those pages down every day whether or not I'm in the zone or struggling
for each word. Weekly page count matters if I want to end up finishing my
book on time.

I will never win a race. I am slow. Really really slow. I've been running
for years and while I occasionally have times when I'm a little faster
than I was, I'm never fast, and as an overall trend, I get slower every
year. I get such a tremendous amount of satisfaction from just being out
there, though! I doubt I'll ever "win" at publishing, either. The chances
of me becoming a NY Times Bestseller seem slimmer every year (which is
more than I can say for myself despite all the running!). I feel seriously
lucky, however, just to be able to get my books published. I have an
inkling of how many people are trying to do what I'm doing. Even if I
never hit a bestseller list, it's an achievement to just get a book
published.

I should probably quit running. I have a heel that acts up and it's hard
on my hips and knees. I just can't though. It's insinuated itself in my
life. It's part of my social life. My schedule is built around it. In a
lot of ways, I should probably give up writing, too. It's a tough way to
make a living. I might well be better off getting a "normal" job with
benefits and regular hours and all that stuff. I can't seem to get myself
to do it, though. It's insinuated itself into the way I see the world and
the way I think. I'm not sure I can stop writing.

9 comments:

Stephanie Doyle said...

Okay - I'll applaud first. Mostly because I'm jealous. I used to run, and am now back to running.

I like you have a bodacious set of tatas. This is in combination with an ass that jiggles. They make a sport bra for the tatatas not so much one for your ass.

I'm up to 1.8 miles. (I'm on a couch to 5K program.) The idea of going for 13 miles makes me want to vomit right now. But maybe someday I'll get there.

Either way you're right. There are days I feel on top of the world. And there are days I feel like a water buffalo on a treadmill.

Writing is exactly like running.

Maureen McGowan said...

"It's insinuated itself into the way I see the world and the way I think. I'm not sure I can stop writing."

Great post, Eileen. This last couple of lines really spoke to me. I had a tough last couple of years writing wise. A lot of unexpected set backs that made me question why the heck I was doing this.

But like you, it's so insinuated itself into my life, I'm not sure I could stop if I tried.

Running on the other hand... (I did used to have cycling in my life like that. Miss it. Need something to replace it. Badly.)

Maureen McGowan said...

Oh and I forgot to applaud the half marathon!!!!!!!!! AWEsome.

When I was cycling I did a few "century" rides and what some did in 5 hours, I did in closer to 10. But I finished. Huge for me.

Eileen said...

I have the badonkadonk to go with the tatas and yes, I would like some kind of sports ass bra.

Maureen, my friends have done a couple of metric centuries. I usually train with them, but haven't done the actual ride. I salute you!

Maureen McGowan said...

I did the Solvang Century a couple of times. Not a metric one. Miles. And very steep hills around there. But it took me 10 hours. Pathetic. Especially since I probably hit close to 40 miles an hour on some of the downhills. I think the fastest people finish that route in about 4-5 hours. But my 4 miles an hour up hills and frequent breaks ate into my overall time. ;)

But I'm the one who should salute you. I cannot run. For the life of me. Even back when I was in pretty good shape, couldn't run.

Eileen said...

Ooh. Hills. Around here, the biggest hills we have are overpasses.

Maureen McGowan said...

Hey, at least on a bike you've got gears to switch to on hills. I tried for years, but couldn't find the transmission for my running shoes, so gave it up.

Sinead M said...

I'm late into running and so far it's twenty minutes at the gym.. and may not go anywhere from there.

But the half marathon is amazing well done.

But like exercise, I always feel great after writing, and on good days, during the writing process.. and on bad days, I'm counting the words till I make my count.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I'm with you - running and writing have both somehow become such a part of my life I don't know what I'd do - or who I'd be without either. And beer... without those three things I am nothing...

congrats on the half! I hope your knees don't hate you this week...

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