Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Who moved the finish line?

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.


Victoria Dahl said...

Wonderful words of inspiration, Jenn. And you know they're wonderful because I'm not even going to make a joke. How rare is that?

I'll be online to cheer you on at the end of May.

Carla Swafford said...

It's all psychological. Like in tee ball. All the kids receive a trophy and ribbon. No matter if they are worst player on the team. That's makes them want to try again next season. We all need that encouragement at times in our lives - a so-called "pat on the back."

Presently I'm in my "poor-me" mood and I find that quotes from famous/successful people lifts my spirits. Some examples I've come across -

Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.
~ Sir Winston Churchill

This one makes me think about the inventor of WD-40. It's called "40" for a reason. It was the 40th try. I wouldn't be surprise if the same was true of 409 cleanser. In other words, try, try again.

Eighty percent of success is showing up.
~ Woody Allen

This would be tied with if you don't finish the book, you can't sell it.

I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
~ Bill Cosby

How true this one is when it comes to submitting your work to contests and getting a hundred different suggestions.

jennifer echols said...

HA! I love these!

Btw, I went jogging this morning, and TOG was there too.

Christy said...

Thanks for the inspirational words, girls. Really need them this week.

Jenn, good luck in the race. And thank goodness Taylor's still there but I'm still bummed about Chris.