Running and Writing

Tuesday morning I left Huntsville to work two days in Oxford, Mississippi on the day job.  Unless I’m over 130 miles away from home or have an early morning start time, I don’t stay away from Huntsville overnight – all my stuff is there, but most of all, Christina is there.  Since Oxford is 200 miles from home, it’s an overnighter.

I figured I’d make the best of it and, after work, run through some of the residential areas of Oxford.  I’d even planned to run past William Faulkner’s house, hoping no one would ask which of his books was my favorite since I’ve not been able to get very far in any of them.  Larry Brown and John Grisham are different stories, but Larry Brown passed away in 2004, and his house is way out of town. John Grisham is in Virginia these days, and I didn’t plan to run that far.   All of that became academic when I found that there were no rooms in Oxford.

So I took Horace Greely’s advice, and went west.  Thirty miles west, to be exact, to Batesville, Mississippi, also the home of a legend: The South Panola Tigers, holders of the third longest winning streak (89 consecutive games – ended in 2007) in high school football.  So late last night, I ran at the home of the Tigers, on the track that circles their immaculate football field.  At 10:00 PM, there was only me, the Killdeer, and the spirits of Tiger teams past at SP Stadium.

I ran a little over six miles – click here for a graphic.  I’ve been to a live game in the stadium.  Christina and I saw South Panola conduct a football clinic there for the Grenada Chargers, a couple of years ago.  That explains why, for the first couple of laps, I imagined that I could hear the bands playing, the crowd roaring, the pop of leather, and the whistles of the officials.

I’ve run the track before with Christina – she’s faster than I am, which is why I thought I saw her about a half lap ahead, about eight laps into the run.  I shook my head and reminded myself that she was 200 miles away in Huntsville.  Then it was just me and the Killdeer, again.

I settled into the run, paying special attention to the obstacles in lanes one and two.  There were three or four hurdles, a set of starting blocks, and a wheeled carrier for the hurdles.  They were placed there for a race or a practice; they were just left there at the end of the school day, probably by the 9th Grade Boys PE Class.  With their locations mapped in my mind, I ran on automatic for a few laps, changing lanes to get around the barriers.

Then a funny thing happened.  I decided I wanted to run in lane one without dodging stuff, so I began moving the hurdles, starting blocks, and cart out of lane one instead of running around them.  It took a couple of laps, but as soon as lane one was clear, a strange thing happened.  Without planning it, I began to run faster.  At first, I thought it was a fluke, and then I realized what had happened.  I cleared one lane, the fast lane, so I wasn’t distracted by the obstacles that had been there.  With the lane clear, I unconsciously picked up the pace, and, best of all, I held it.

So what’s that got to do with writing?  A lot!  For the past few weeks, I’ve been preoccupied with marketing – so preoccupied that my writing has almost stopped.  I know that marketing is necessary, and I know I have to do it, but I also know that I can’t do it at the expense of my writing.

J.A. Konrath is right – to be a successful writer, you have to write – note, Konrath also blogs, which appears to be the bulk of his marketing.  So, it’s back to J.A. Konrath basics for me – writing and blogging.  Oh, I’ll tweet, and email, and approve posts on Triberr every day, but I will keep lane one clear for writing, and I’ll run in it.  So, if you’re out at the track late some night, and hear someone, in the darkness, pounding around the track, don’t be alarmed. It’s just me, doing the Elvis Presley thing – Taking Care of Business.

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20 Responses to Running and Writing

  1. You make the simplistic magical. Thoroughly enjoyed running with you yet again. One very interesting read.
    Christina Carson recently posted…The View from HereMy Profile

  2. Jack Durish
    Twitter:
    says:

    Distractions are distracting, aren’t they? I’ve been blogging like a mad man for several weeks, pumping out about 2-3,000 words per day. I now have 70 postings backlogged. And, I’ve been marketing, too. Produced a video. Playing with social media to find an audience. Writing on the book? Well, no. Too many distractions.

  3. Jo VonBargen
    Twitter:
    says:

    Lordy, I do wish I could remove some of my distractions, but to do that I’d have to disown my kids, sell the farm and hogtie Rick! By the time I get to the ‘puter at night, I’m exhausted, especially with an early Spring and 40 acres of grass growing three inches a day! I’ve taken to writing in my head while I’m mowing. Whether I’ll remember it all when I’m ready to get it all down is another story entirely. Another great write, Bama!!

    • Bert
      Twitter:
      says:

      Jo,
      You are so good – you’re writing while you’re mowing and I’m writing while I’m going up and down the road – or around and around the track – whatever – at least we’re writing.
      Thanks for being there my friend.
      Bert

  4. Bert, good advice. I, too, have really been missing working on my next book. Blogging is one thing, writing a novel another. I agree that both are essential in the indie publishing world and plan to keep at it. But I always feel like I have hit that faster pace when I get in the rhythm of a long work. It makes all the cylinders fire at once.

    Thanks for the prod back to the main thing.

    Regards, SW

    • Bert
      Twitter:
      says:

      Stephen,
      You’re a solid anchor in tossing sea my friend. The reminder was for me – it’s a bonus if it meant something to you.
      I finished Last One Chosen over the weekend – OUTSTANDING piece of writing my friend.
      Bert

  5. Caleb Pirtle
    Twitter:
    says:

    Bert: Running is indeed like writing: Put one foot in front of the other until the marathon is run; Put one sentence after the last until the novel is finished. Both are long-distance races, and you’ve had your share of successes in both.

  6. Laura Zera (
    Twitter:
    says:

    Bert, sometimes we have to swing too far in one direction to be able to come back a ways and find the right place. ‘You don’t know until you’ve been there’ kind of thing.

    Jack, 70 backlogged posts? You must have a lot of words in your head, jockeying for prominence!

    Jo, the problem with grass is that it just grows back again the next week. Glad you can turn it into a creative time.

  7. Yes, I totally hear you.I spend so much time at my “day job” editing.
    But I’m not living until I am writing for myself.
    Kim

    • Bert
      Twitter:
      says:

      Kimberly,
      I beginning to think that I’m looking at this through the wrong end of the telescope – what I need is six more hour in every day. Now there’s something to work on.
      Bert

  8. I know the distractions are a pain, but how boring would life be if it were at the constant pace, speed and direction of your well-documented run? You may have run faster without some of the distractions in lane one, but you were still a hamster on the track. I embrace the occasional distractions – they blow a cooling breeze through grass growing sometimes too fast in my creative head (a nod to you Jo!), but I agree with you, Bert, that too many distractions can cause the creativity (and therefore the writing and breathing) to grind to a halt! Balance, my friend…What the Hell is That?!

    Glad you’re back to the writing…I missed you!
    Mary Kathryn Johnson recently posted…Am I in the Twilight Zone?My Profile

    • Bert
      Twitter:
      says:

      Mary Kathryn,
      Life is a distraction – watching it without participating is a a bore – doing what you want to, when you want to do it – I don’t know what that is, but I’m bound and determined to find out.
      You’re great,
      Bert

  9. Claude Nougat
    Twitter:
    says:

    Bert, an excellent post as always…all that running! Life is a marathon and for us writers, now that we have to take on marketing as well, it sometimes looks like we’d really need a 30 hours-day!

    Bottomline, you’re right, the advice is good: the best form of marketing, ulitmately, is another…book! Good luck on your writing!
    Claude Nougat recently posted…A Writers’ Retreat in Wonderful MateraMy Profile

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