Monday, June 11, 2012

After the Marathon (June Theme from Jody Feldman)


I do not run marathons. I could not even pretend to. But I know someone who does. Runs them, that is; not pretends to. Through the years I’ve heard about her training and preparation. I enjoy the mile-by-mile accounts of her races. And when she talks about the exhilaration, the exhaustion, the letdown, and the renewal, I understand.

For me, novel writing is eerily similar.

The training never stops. And there's always event preparation – those engrossing, distracting, enraging, energizing, and exciting weeks of brainstorming plot, discovering characters and setting, imagining how it all might come together.

But right now, I’ve just come through the race where ...
  • I start out at a good pace. Nice, steady, full of energy.
  • At about Mile 7, the finish line looks so far away.
  • Mile 13.1. Are you kidding me? I’m only half there.
  • But then comes Mile 20. I am off to the races. I trade in my 1,000-word-a-day pace for double, triple even septuple that.
  • Then when the finish line is in sight, when I’m challenged with the revision rounds, when I reread certain lines or scenes (Me? I really wrote that?), I charge ahead, break through the tape, hit “Send” and I collapse.

This most recent collapse truly was physical as much as mental. I did a little dance, sat on the comfiest part of the couch, lolled my head back, and pretty much couldn’t move for an hour or two. When I did, it was for food-type reinforcements. The only marathon residue I didn’t experience, gratefully, were the blisters and sore muscles. And yet I’m sure if I tried a could create a metaphor for those.

The wonderful thing about finishing a book at this time of the year, it truly feels like vacation. It’s that season. I should frolic (how does one do that exactly?). I should splash in water. I should drive along country roads, spitting watermelon seeds out the window.

This summer, I will do all those things and more (except for the spitting). I just won’t do them for a full three months like I did when I was a kid. But I may enjoy it more.

6 comments:

  1. This is SO TRUE, Jody--I swear, writing a book takes every bit as much physical exertion as building a house. No hyperbole.

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    1. I'd felt the physical before, but not as much as this time. Either:
      A. I sunk more into this most recent effort;
      B. I didn't notice the connection before;
      C. My stamina isn't what it used to be.

      No. It's A. Has to be.

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  2. I'm a runner and I used to be a gymnast, and I totally agree that writing a book is a lot like training for a competition or a race! Actually, there are many analogies for writing and sports. They have very similar approaches of hard work, determination, setbacks, and success.

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    1. Writing and all sports? I didn't think about that, but yes. Definitely!

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  3. I am amazed ALL THE TIME by the similarities between roller derby & writing and illustrating! I get knocked down over and over again- but I have to keep getting up. I am simultaneously terrified and exhilarated by what I am doing. I think I will never, ever get better at what I am doing... and then I have a tiny shining moment of glory that keeps me going. I keep vowing to quit... but love wins out over hardships any day!

    Enjoy your summer break! And I say- spit away!

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  4. Roller derby? Cool! Something I wouldn't even attempt. But I understand shining moments. For me, it's through golf.

    And no spitting necessary really -- I buy seedless watermelons :0)

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