Monthly Archives: October 2015

Marathoning and the Writers’ Experience

Some people run for fun, and then there are those who run in marathons. That’s some serious stuff. My cousin Tracy does that. He’s 50 years old, and dude runs in marathons regularly, raising money for cancer research in memory of his mother, my Aunt Evelyn. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. So when I say I did a mini-marathon of my own this weekend, I’m going to keep myself humble and mention Tracy first. He’s a hero. I’m just an out-of-shape, anxiety-ridden writer.

I’m in a wonderful Facebook writing group called 10 Minute Novelists, led by Katharine Grubb, the author of Write a Novel in 10 Minutes a Day. Being a time-crunched writer–extra crunchy, I’d say–I find this group to be a tremendous encouragement to me. This weekend, she hosted an online event called Run Walk Write 5K. I appreciate self-explanatory names. Sometime this weekend, over a 24-hour period, I was expected to run or walk five kilometers, and write 5,000 words.

These are stretch goals for me. For one thing, I am a fairly regular denizen of the cardiology wing of my local hospital because of stubbornly closing arteries. I have avoided a heart attack, thankfully, and I am making slow but sure lifestyle changes. But… yeah. I huff and puff and nothing blows down but me.

But then, there’s nothing like the Texas Book Festival to get a girl walking.

Hubby and I went to the Texas Capitol and walked everywhere, bought books, the usual. Except I was visiting this event not just as a spectator, but as a prospective author. So, I felt like I was researching and observing. And I observed something very important about myself.

This business scares me witless.

It’s not like I don’t already have a lovely career as a history teacher. I have a perfectly adequate regular paycheck coming in. I’m writing for fun. Fun. That’s all. Right?

I spent the afternoon having the most fun anxiety attacks ever.

I decided to try and channel the Becca who used to be outgoing to the point of being obnoxious and talk to some publishers, authors, and others in the field. I used the words “I’m a writer.” I couldn’t prevent the words “I’m just getting started really” from following that statement, but at least the I’m a writer part stuck. But then… then… they asked the dreaded question.

What’s your book about?

Um. Er.  Well it’s a…. erm… a uh… fantasy romance. It’s a fantasy romance! Yes! Yeah… it has a time travel… thing. And. Oh! Part of it is set in Italy! Yeah, because I’m a medievalist, though it’s actually post-Renaissance… I erm… excuse me, I’m going to throw up now.

Clearly, I suck most egregiously at the so-called elevator pitch

So, as I walked through the Book Festival, trying to remember how to breathe, I somehow finished walking five kilometers.

Win.

I also wrote 5,000 words for my novel. Niccolo made me cry because I love him and don’t want him to die (but no spoilers). I began creating an adorable, messy new couple who will get a book of their own as part of The Journeymen series (still no spoilers). I found scenes I had written over the course of the eleven months since I started this adventure that I had all but forgotten about. They got me excited now that I’m nearly finished with the first draft.

The writing was easy. Easy? My goodness. That’s new.

Writing is easy. Being a writer is hard. I love it, though, even when it makes me feel like I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.

Unfortunately, I didn’t finish it all within 24 hours. I was bummed about that, but I was proud of myself for trying and not giving up. I have a long and distinguished history of not being able to finish things, of giving up early, getting bored, or worse, being so mired in expectations of self-perfection that I paralyze myself. It would have been easy to say, meh, I didn’t make it, I’ll just give up. But I didn’t.

Win.

Thank you to the people at the Texas Book Festival who listened to me blather helplessly about my book and at least looked sympathetic. Even the very sweet woman who said, “Oh! We like genre writers, too!”

I’m sorry, Shadow of the Portico, for not giving you the sales pitch you deserve, because you’re not half bad, really, and you deserve a more competent author.

Thank you, Katharine, for setting up so many opportunities to be a better writer and human. And for bending the rules to give me my beautiful pixel medal.

Who’d have thought a few pixels would make a girl cry so much. But I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, huh? Can’t help it, I’m swept up in magic.

My cousin Tracy recently gave up a faster finishing time on a marathon so that he could walk with an older man and he didn’t have to walk alone. I thought that was a beautiful story, and I was inspired by it. Stop whining, forget the deadline that’s already irrelevant, keep going. Yep, thank you, Tracy, for being an inspiring individual and doing all you do. You really are a hero to me.

 

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