I’ve often compared running and writing. They’re both things I love to do, they’re both mostly solitary pursuits, and require setting your mind to a task and not stopping until it’s done. Both can be done pretty much everywhere, and need minimal equipment. A body. A mind. Running shoes. A laptop. The bells and whistles of wicking socks, a running watch that takes my heartbeat, and a MP3 player are like writing software, books on the craft, and a glitter pen that writes in turquoise: very nice, but not essential.
In most stories and in most runs, there’s a point at which I want to stop. “No more,” I think despairingly, “I can’t do this any longer.” And in most stories and most runs, if I can get myself past that point, the end is worth it. The satisfaction of completing a story knowing I’ve told something good. The joy of completing a run when I didn’t think I could run that far or that fast. (Running ’til you puke is a whole ‘nother topic). And in the long haul of training, or a writing career, there’s times in both when I’ve thought, what’s the point of continuing? I’ll never get faster, no one will ever want to read this. But getting past those mental blocks brings great rewards.
My running days either seem to be over or on a very long hiatus, which makes me sad (and fatter). I’m getting on. Bits of me hurt, some of them quite a bit, when I run. But my writing career continues. Through highs and lows, changes of direction, diversions for shiny new things, fantastic new experiences and people, a few crocks who want the world and offer nothing (a bit like a long run in miserable weather). But now, like running in Ireland in winter, life intrudes and it’s harder to make time to write. I’d rather sit on the deck and drink wine (and who wants to slog out in the dark and damp of an Irish winter?)
So I’m approaching my writing as I did my running. I’m a bit of a geek for numbers. I’d be bouncing around the roads if I managed to chop 5 seconds a mile off my pace. I’d set out to run 5km, or 10km, at a 9 minute mile pace or an even pace. And those little goals of numbers in my running log were my reward and got me out there the next day.
I’ve always avoided being a slave to word counts, but now I’m trying it. My writing calender is pretty full at present. I have three short stories to write for CFS, First my second anthology for Ladylit Publishing to organize and edit. Pretty soon, I’ll have another novel sent to me to edit. But I want to find time to write a sequel to a novella that isn’t even published yet (but will be, probably in June). So, to fit this in, something I really want to do, I’ve set an in-stone word count: 1,000 words/day every day until the end of March, which with what I already have, will see me to completion of first draft by the end of March.
People may scoff at the low number. I don’t care. Some people scoffed at my running goals but I did it and It Was Good. Hell, yeah! And the discipline of meeting that daily number drives me on, knowing I’ve set an achievable goal. Just like my 5km race pace (PB of 26.02 in case you’re wondering. Not elite, not even speedy, but pretty damn good for me.)
What’s more, I know I’ll do it. I slogged to the end of a half marathon. I ran faster than I ever thought possible in a couple of Great Ireland Runs. Being a runner improved my writing, and being a writer improved my running.
In just a minute, I might have to go out and see exactly how much things hurt when I run.
In other happy news, after a long, long wait, Kristina Wright‘s super-sexy anthology Three of Hearts: Erotic Romance for Women is out from Cleis Press. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. Can’t wait for my copies to arrive, but I see from the Table of Contents that my story, What Happens in Denver, is in the excellent company of Giselle Reynarde, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Axa Lee, Kathleen Tudor, Kristina herself and many, many more, including an introduction by Maestro, Alison Tyler.