Marathons and the Running Kind

I am so bad luck for celebrities on this blog. Sorry.

Today is another erase everything I write day. I am at school and I had every intention of being here hours and hours and hours and writing, writing, writing. So far it’s been about three? And I am soooooooo burned out. Plus it’s dark out and I get spooked.

I have a problem with feeling dumb all the time. Do you ever feel dumb? All the time? When I write, it’s so freeing. I can say whatever I want and I can be myself. Maybe that’s why I like writing. It allows me to shed some of my dumbness.

In real life, I am so dumb.

Like I went to a running class. Because I don’t know how to run. And my friends who accompanied me insisted on sitting in the front right in the middle. I immediately felt stupid. The guys teaching the class were Olympians (do you capitalize olympians? not sure). They were tall and skinny and wore shoes with toes. Everyone around me was wearing cool running shorts and talking about running rim to rim and did you know that if you are not smart with your nutrition you can max out at idon’tknowwhattheyweretalkingabout? The class hadn’t even started and I felt like a moron. Me in my yoga pants with the holes in the seams from before I was married and my bad bad socks that were made of COTTON? The horror.

What are you running? A girl asked me.

What was I running? What did she mean what was i running? I wasn’t running. I was sitting on a director’s chair looking like a moron.


She smiled. Are you training for a race?

Oh blah. The problem was I am training for a race. A ridiculous race I have no business training for.

Ummm, I signed up for the Utah Valley Marathon, I told her.

Shock. The girl looked shocked.

It’s dumb, I said.

No. No. That’s so great, she said. Smiled like she was so proud of me. So proud of me and my belly and my yoga pants.

Thanks, I said. And then the Olympian started talking.

I have been thinking about this ever since. Thinking about that girl and the fact that Olympian kept looking at me in the eyes, I swear, he kept looking at me and I kept not looking at him and trying to avoid looking at him but he was talking and showing how to do your hips when you run so how could I avoid looking at him and did I look like I was the most desperate person in there? Why was he looking at me? I’ve been thinking about this and a little about what Carol wrote about.

Why did I sign up for the marathon (which, by the way, is the Saturday before WIFYR so I might be dead)?  Why did I sign up for something that is clearly beyond my capacity to do (and it really is. Really.)? In that same vane (vein?) why do I try to write a novel, something that feels equally daunting? It really does. I know I have written a few books and I have some hiding in drawers but every time I find the time to sit down and write I realize how bloodsweatandtears hard it is. Isn’t it hard? Especially when your heart gets involved and you care and you’re being your real self, the self that likes to tell stories and push and do stuff that no one would dare you could or should do? It’s hard.

And we take classes or get in workshops and we feel dumb. You want to read my stuff? and tell me how bad it is? Okay. Let’s do that. That’s fun. But we do it. Why do we do it? Why do you do it? Why do you want to write a novel? Even when you find out you might not get rich or famous or smarter or cooler or happier or taller. Why?

I was going to write a closing paragraph explaining why I write novels but I’m not sure I know. And right now, with the things I am supposedly working on, it does feel insurmountable. But I keep doing it. Or I talk about doing it. A lot. I think there is something magic about doing something we don’t know if we can actually do. Something that’s going to stretch us. Make us hurt. Make us sick. Make us eat. Something that is going to feel so good once we’re done, no matter how long it took us. So why do you want to write a novel?



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9 responses to “Marathons and the Running Kind

  1. Amy Finnegan

    Why do I write novels?

    Because I have people in my head, and they become real to me, and I get all these momentary glimpses into their lives – that I relate to, so I ache to know more about them . . .

    And when I write those moments down, I can experience more and more of their lives. And even better, I can make them do and say whatever I want them to. That SO does not work with my children!

    But my imaginary friends *always* listen to me.

    I love them. (Okay, I love my naughty little kids, too)

    (Does anyone know a good psychologist? I think I might need help.)

  2. I will tell you in the words of a character from what I always refer to as my least favorite book in the world (I keep meaning to re-read it because I think I’ll change my mind about it, but I haven’t gotten around to it): “Up ahead they’s a thousan’ lives we might live, but when it comes it’ll on’y be one.” I don’t want to choose only one. So, I get to have them all–through writing.

    And I’m like Ann Dee, I am myself on paper. My real self. The emotional, vulnerable self. It’s scary.

  3. Louise Plummer

    I write, because NOT writing doesn’t work at all.

  4. I specifically want to write a novel because last year someone showed Freaks and Geeks in their WIFYR presentation.

    And they said that dialogue is fun and to let tags off the hook.

    And then the author had us write a dialogue. And we shared.

    And it was awesome how the few words felt like poetry and they were alive and filled up the space of a place in me that I didn’t even know was empty.

    Now its like a hunger, appetite or desire for that feeling of new life; and writing the Novel is the main course.

    Thank You.

  5. I’m also extremely arrogant and I know one day I will be rich and famous and the only way to get there is with a vampire fantasy/sci-fi/historaical-nonfiction novel written in the style of a french symbolist.

    Plan b is to keep milking my Goat and collecting the eggs. Either way I will, one day, rule the universe. [insert evil laugh here.]

    Mark my words.

    With crayons.

  6. I write because I like it. And lucky me, I get to know some of the greatest people ever.

  7. Carol

    I am always asking why i write. Why? Whywhywhy? WHY?

    Then, every once in a while, something clicks in the writing and I’m like, “Oh yes. I’d forgotten about that.”

  8. LOL–dang, you downloaded so many things from my brain it’s creepy. I’m a wannabe runner too–improving but embarrassed to say how long it’s taken me to run 5 miles. I love it when I tell someone I’ve run a couple 5Ks and they smile that polite little smile and give me a look which translates into a pat on the head. BUT, I think it’s freaking awesome you signed up for the marathon. I mean, why not? Why not have goals? Why not work toward hard things? Is it going to destroy you? Is it going to make you dumber (though you’re not the least bit dumb). I say go for it and feel proud of having done it. Hats off to you.

  9. Pencil Writer

    I write. Because. Because I like to see characters and their lives come into being and develop like real people. Because I love to read. Because I love stories, telling stories, hearing how other people find things in my stories that help them realize things about themselves in a way that it helps them.

    Writing is hard and it’s fun. But I don’t run. I barely walk well! Have fun training for the marathon and everything else you’re doing. Really. Have fun.


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