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.