Saturday, February 23, 2013

On Writing: A Comparison to the Marathon

Hi folks.  I'm dangerously close to already failing one of my New Year's resolutions, which was to blog at least four times a month.  As such, I'm scrambling to write three posts within this last week of February.  Additionally, I'm deep in the struggle of training for my very first marathon, a feat much much more difficult than I ever imagined.  Since this is taking most of my time and energy, and provides me long training runs in which I can come up with blog topics, the next three posts will be running-heavy and animal-light.  As an attempt at amends for all my dear readers who visit for the veterinary side of things, here's a picture of a patient of mine in vet school:
I forgot his name, but doesn't he look like a Mr. Bigglesworth?
The next three posts here will be on a theme of comparing writing, in particular the long commitment of writing a novel, to training for a marathon. 

Blog 1 of 3:

Writing is so much like training for a marathon, it's not even funny.  Not in the slightest.  Especially when the going gets tough.  I know.  Because right now, the going is VERY tough for my marathon training. 

With a 26.2 mile challenge breathing down my neck in four weeks, I am stressed, I am tired, I am working hard.  Anyone with a writing deadline ever feel the same way?  I am suffering from over-training (more on that in an up-coming post), which I am likening to writer's block.  Worst of all, I am tempted to quit.  So very tempted. 

And yet..... so many people talk about running a marathon.  Just like so many people talk about writing a book.  I prefer to live, or at least try to live, my life according to the Elvis song: "A Little Less Conversation" (a little more action, please).  Anyone can TALK about doing something.  How about we actually DO IT?

I believe in order to complete either a book or a marathon, one must exemplify three traits: perseverance, self-discipline, and ambition.  Please note I have not mentioned talent.  There is no secret to writing a book - you have an idea and you write it down.  There is no secret to running a marathon - you put feet to pavement and start moving.  You don't need to be the next Hemingway, or the next Usain Bolt.  A popular writer's quote goes something like, "Writing is 3% inspiration and 97% avoiding distractions on the Internet", which means to me: just freaking do it.  A nose to the grindstone sort of thing.

I'm writing today because I'm angry and frustrated and I want to quit.  A few weeks ago, just as I really started to feel the effects of extra miles in my training, I got a rejection letter in the mail from a writing query I sent a month earlier.  Talk about getting kicked when you're down.  Struggling both in writing and running, it's so tempting to wallow in self-pity and have a convenient excuse to eat an entire bag of M&Ms.

Me, for the past month.
And yet.... there are people who believe in me.  One thing about bragging that you're training for a marathon (in the euphoria of the first week of training) is that the people you tell keep you accountable.  They ask how things are going and offer words of encouragement.  And it's a funny thing about encouragement - after you keep hearing it, you start to believe in yourself again.  It can be the same thing with writing.

So, here we are four weeks from race day.  One last long run tomorrow morning, then it's down to tapering.  You could liken this to finishing the last third of a novel: the plot is winding up for the climax, but there are loose ends and plot holes you need to repair.  It's overwhelming, but the end is in sight.  And we can do this.

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