A day of machine guns and helicopters in a huge gravel pit during production of the TV show La Femme Nikita taught me a lot about people. I recalled that horrible, exciting day while I was running the Toronto Marathon this year.
Tag archive: marathons
The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite novels. Fitzgerald can write description that is so effortless to read that a whole page of it with no other action is still captivating. But I have to wonder if Fitzgerald’s great work would have made it to a second printing (it barely did) if it had been called The Incident at West Egg. That’s the original title. Not horrible, but certainly not as engaging as The Great Gatsby, and I think the novel really is more about Gatsby than the “incident” at the end of the novel.
Totally off topic but amusing nonetheless: The Globe and Mail posted a photo of me as one of eighteen “Faces of the Toronto Marathon.” I’m photo number twelve. What happened to all the photos he took of me smiling? He shot at least a dozen. Now if I had only thought of a way get that photojournalist to mention my writing, that would have been great self-promotion.
I placed 29th out of 1300 runners, 24th for men, and 3rd for my age group. 3hrs and 3 minutes to go 42.2 kilometers. Maybe that’s why I look so tired.
Writing–and I mean from the first moment fingers touch keys to the day someone buys something you wrote–is like running a marathon. I can say this because I ran one yesterday, so unlike journalists who report about marathon bargaining sessions or marathon fund raising, I actually know what running 42.2 kilometers feels like.
Writing the novel is the easy part, the first half of the marathon, when you’re still excited from the start line and hoping for a quick and painless race to the end, to crossing that finish line, to getting published. But once it’s written, you’re only half-way.
Editing is like 21k to 30k, when you realize that this is going to hurt, that you won’t get to the end without a fight. You begin to consider dropping out, or at least slowing to a walk. A lot of writers give up at this point.
Publishing is the wall at 32k. Your body begs to stop. Your mind starts to play tricks on you, like a cartoon devil on your shoulder whispering, “Just a little walk. Just stop for a little walk and then you can make up the time.” You’ll send to an agent next month. You’ll search for a publisher after one more draft.
But luckily the cartoon angel on the other shoulder whispers, “Keep going. Don’t give up. Keep those legs moving. Keep striving to get published, to get a reader to buy your book.
Promoting your novel is like the last three kilometers going uphill. You’ve got nothing left, and it’s the most important part. What’s the point of writing if hardly anyone reads your work? What’s the point of running a marathon if you give up with the finish line in sight?
There is, however, one big difference between writing and marathons. Marathons have a finish line. Always. You know success is there if you just keep going.
With writing there is no guarantee that you’ll reach a place where your sales are so good that it’s like having someone put a medal over your head and help you off to the refreshments tent with a pat on the back.
So when I think about it: running a marathon is a lot easier than writing and publishing.
But hopefully publishing doesn’t leave your muscles so stiff and sore.