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.
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.