As you know, we’re hosting some amazing guest bloggers on Fridays lately, and today we’re fortunate to have Kitty Bucholtz, the founder of the sucessful blog, Routines for Writers. Kitty’s blog forte is inspiration, as you’ll see from the following. We know Kitty from our local RWA group, OCCRWA, but she left us a year or so ago to follow her husband to a job in Australia! We miss her sunny personality and her encouragement, but you can get a shot of it anytime on her blog!
I’m so happy to be a guest here at Writers in the Storm. Not only are these some of my favorite people <waving madly>, but they’re serious about their writing and it shows on this blog.
I’ve been getting more and more serious about my writing as time goes by. It’s been a slow road with a few wonderful moments that I thought might be THE MOMENT. But then The Moment would turn into “We almost bought it,” and I had to trudge on. There were a few times when I gave up for a while, too discouraged to think of a way to keep going.
But a couple years ago I had lunch with my friend Dwight who said he wanted to run a marathon just to say he did it. I’d been trying to think of something I could do before I turned 40 that I’d never done before, something I’d never have believed I could do. A half marathon sounded like a brilliant idea. Especially because I was a dedicated couch potato. Running 13.1 miles without stopping was definitely on my list of things I couldn’t do.
We talked my husband John into joining us and the three of us began to train. From the beginning. Meaning we downloaded the “Couch to 5k” podcast from iTunes which starts with you running for 60 seconds, then walking for 90 seconds. I thought running meant running so I ran. Before the second minute of running was announced on my iPod, I was exhausted and ready to quit. But I couldn’t because now I’d convinced John to run, too, and he wasn’t quitting after 60 seconds. Crap! What had I gotten myself into?
Over the next 9 weeks, we slowly worked our way up to 5km (3.1 miles) and the three of us entered our first 5k race. Turns out John is a natural athlete and he did well in that first race (and has done well ever since). Dwight is about 6’4” and I figured his long legs would do all the work, but he struggled more than John. I struggled, too. I made it, but I was near the end of the finishers.
We kept training. We entered another 5k race and we did better. We drove to another city and ran a 10k race. I was excited about that one because we would be running through the wetlands next to a beach and there would be ice cream at the end. I was so slow that the photographer didn’t bother taking my picture (they take everyone’s picture) and they had already put the finisher’s medals away when I crossed the finish line.
I had half a bowl of melted ice cream and thought about what an idiot I was to be doing this. At the outset, running seemed like the perfect form of exercise for the budget-impaired. After all, we had two legs and a pair of sneakers when we started. But every race has an entry fee (money). We didn’t realize that you needed proper running shoes in order to not hurt your feet (more money). We were buying running gels (money), and driving all over the state (gas money).
To do what? To have John and Dwight always wait for me because I was always at the end of the pack. It was embarrassing.
One day, because I tend to be a techno-geek, I created an Excel spreadsheet with all of our race information. All the races we’d run so far, our times, what place we came in, and a list of the races we were planning on entering before the big prize – the Huntington Beach Marathon and Half Marathon. Typing the details into that spreadsheet, I noticed something for the first time.
I’d gotten a little faster with each race.
Shocking! Because I’d always been near the end, finisher number 752 out of 827, or finisher number 1721 out of 2165, and because I’d been passed by old men and a woman with one leg, I’d assumed I sucked big time. Maybe I did in comparison to the winners. But I was beating out my best time with each new race!
I’ve now run two half marathons and several shorter races. I’ve got some great stories about how running has taught me how to be a writer who goes the distance. I came in third to last in one half marathon because I’d hurt my foot a few weeks before and basically limped for 13.1 miles. My goal was only to go as far as I could without hurting myself. I never dreamed I’d even finish that race.
But the people waiting at the finish line cheered for me! I couldn’t believe it. I asked a stranger why they were cheering when I was nearly dead last. She said, “Because you finished! We’re all standing here because none of us could do what you just did!”
It shouldn’t take much imagination to think back through my story on running and change it to a story on writing. Paul, one of the writers in the Bible, gives some great encouragement to people on a journey. He says we can take pride in ourselves without comparing ourselves to others. He encourages us not to get weary of trying. And he reminds us that when we forget the past and press on toward the goal, we will win a prize.
Next month John and I will run the City2Surf race in Sydney for the second time. It’s the largest race in the world with 80,000+ runners. Last year, I finished behind about 49,000 people. But I beat 16,000 other people! And 15,000 people never crossed the finish line.
What about you? Have you done anything in your outside life that inspired your writing? This is not an easy journey, and we all benefit from your inspiration – please share it with us!
I’ll never win first place in a footrace. And I don’t dream of making more money than Jane or selling more books than Sally. But I have career goals and benchmarks, and I’m beginning to see that when I compete with myself and don’t give up, I win a little bit every day. I hope you see that about yourself, too.
Kitty Bucholtz has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, and writes light-hearted urban fantasy. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing from University of Technology, Sydney, and is a member of Romance Writers of America and Romance Writers of Australia. She loves to help and encourage other writers and is one of the co-founders of Routines for Writers. Follow her on Twitter at @KittyBucholtz.