I’ve blogged before about the running/writing metaphor (“A Marathon of Luuurve”; “Proud to Finish 1157th”). Last November, I ran in my first 10-K race, the Vulcan Run, the day of the Southern Magic Readers’ Luncheon. I found inspiration in jogging 6.2 miles, then presenting awards to Southern Magic members Sherrilyn Kenyon and Debra Webb for selling their 50th books.
My second 10-K, the Birmingham Zoo Run, is coming up this Friday evening. Even so, I sank into a funk last week about both my running and my writing. I completed and turned in the second book on my contract some time ago, and I’ve been waiting to hear whether my editor is accepting it. I have no more contracts and no more deadlines. I’m back where I was before I sold, writing into the unknown. When I finish the WIP, I might get nothing but “feelings of accomplishment.” Woo-hoo. *eye roll* It was easy to let my self-imposed deadline for my new novel come and go.
Similarly, there have been days lately when training for the 10-K didn’t seem worth the effort. Unlike last race, my husband and son will be there to cheer me on this time. But if I decided not to do it, they would understand. Technically nothing would be lost but my twenty bucks for registration.
Then, last Friday, completing a rather anemic 2-mile jog that I’d intended to be a 5-mile jog along the Shades Creek Trail, I passed The Old Guy. I see The Old Guy there a lot. He started jogging after being diagnosed with health problems at age 54. Now, at age 72, he has run 30 marathons. He showed me his medal from a marathon he ran in Nashville a few weekends ago. He finished in six hours and came in second in his age group. When I recounted this story for my husband, he pointed out that (1) there were probably only three people in the age group and (2) six hours is not a very good time for a marathon. I responded, (1) “But still!” and (2) “But still!” Obviously The Old Guy enjoys sharing his accomplishment with other runners, who understand what an accomplishment this is. But his only real motivation is his own health. That is, himself.
This week I’m on a renewed mission to make it through that 10-K, and to finish my WIP by my son’s last day of school, May 26. I have plenty of excuses not to run or to write today. I have a child and a job, I’m behind on the laundry, I’m recovering from a nasty cold, and I’m preoccupied with worry that Taylor Hicks will do an Elvis impersonation tonight and get himself kicked off American Idol. But I will run and I will write, because I am a runner and a writer. That is what I do.
I’m writing for me. I am a worthy audience. And cheering myself on is one of the most important parts of this journey, one I can’t forget again.