Answer: Maybe the sixth time is the charm.
So, here's blog comeback number six-ish. It's good to be back. Hopefully it will stick this time. ;)
I've been up to a lot while I've been away, not the least of which is a moment of insanity that is spelled m-a-r-a-t-h-o-n. Many of you would follow that with a word spelled like this: c-r-a-z-y. And my husband would agree, even though he ran it with me.
It was an incredible experience, but I don't know if it was until recently I really figured out the core reason why it moved me so much. Yes, it was a goal, and I achieved it, and of course that feels good, but it meant more than that. I've started and stalled on several blog posts on how running a marathon is like writing a book, because I could feel connections, but I ended up not able to finish those posts, and it's because this was the one I needed to discover.
First, I'll summarize some of those tossed posts for you. ENTER BULLET LIST (Yea for lists!!)
- I spent 4 months of hard training to get ready, showing the importance of proper preparation--and persistence.
- There were many days I didn't want to run, but the race loomed ahead, so I got up and did it anyway, proving the importance of goals.
- At mile 24 I was ready to stop, but I just kept going--put my head down and gutted it out, showing the grit your teeth and endure to the end moments of writing (and life in general).
- The cheer I remember the most was a lady I'd never seen before and probably never will again who shouted from the sidelines a block from the finish, "Look how strong you are!" and I thought about how tempting it is to limp to the finish your story.
- I thought I knew about nutrition, but I had to relearn what worked for me, and it wasn't what worked for my husband, who was following the exact same training regimen. That's an easy analogy for finding out the meat and drink of what keeps you going through the long haul as you write, and it's very individual.
- The satisfaction of doing something hard is worth the pain and not being able to walk afterward, and the revised, finished book that finally lives up to the magical idea you had before you slaughtered it with a crappy rough draft is worth all the torment to get it there.
See, those are all good takeaway analogies, right? But here's the takeaway message I needed for me. In running this marathon I learned some things about what makes me tick and matters to me. And those are things that I need to tap into to make my writing mean something to me, no matter what genre, what characters, or what plot I am working on.
Through training for and running 26.2 miles, I learned that I push myself to touch the potential that is inside every person when things get hard and you do it anyway. I am amazed and awed by those who are up against a wall and through sheer will, determination, and digging deep (usually by leaning on faith in something) they overcome and often succeed brilliantly. I think that perhaps we can't truly understand our own potential - the potential that resides in every human being - until we are pinned right at the boundary of what we think are our limits, only to push past that boundary and discover we are capable of so much more than we thought. But stepping through the boundary is a personal choice, and not something you can make someone else do.
*moment of deep thought*
Hopefully that makes sense to some of you. It was an epiphany for me, and now I can see that "theme" in what I write. Not in a preachy way, mind you, and no one else may ever catch it, but I know it's there, and it matters to me that it is.
So, that's what running a marathon did for my growth as a writer.
And here's the obligatory picture. This is about mile 16, I think.