Discipline

Lately, the question I hate to hear is, “So how’s your writing going?” This question makes me cringe. This question reminds me that my writing is not going. Yes, I’ve started a hundred things. Like a monster, I leave my characters waiting to feel complete. Because that’s all we ever want, right? A feeling of completeness. But lately I’ve been feeling likeI lack the discipline to be a writer. I’ve been second guessing myself.

I randomly applied to a flash fiction contest for a magazine. I was rejected. I didn’t flinch. I didn’t cry. I thought, “Well, there’s always next time.” But I know there won’t be a next time if I don’t write. I need to find direction. I love writing shorts, but I don’t think I can tell a whole story in a short story. I love writing long, but the muddle in the middle bogs me down and makes me want to stop. I have a love/hate relationship with writing. I need to do it, because it makes me feel complete, fulfilled, and most of all happy and content. But sometimes I hate to do it, or I hate how much it haunts me when I’m not doing it.

When I was writing, really writing, my brain filled up with so many ideas I could barely keep up. Now I don’t even have blog ideas. I had people telling me how I inspired them. Getting up at 4 in the morning to write, then dealing with kids, coming to a full time job, having a kid on a gymnastics team. Where was the time? But if I’ve learned anything about myself it’s that I’m a better writer when I’m busy. I’m a better writer when I have to squeeze it in. I’m also a better writer when I’m a runner.

Lately, I’ve been training for another half marathon. Yeah, I think I said I’d never do one again, but I changed my mind. The truth is, running helps me keep the weight off, even if it doesn’t help me lose weight (Lord—I wish it did—I feel like I will never get rid of this extra 15 lbs). And running helps center me. I listen to music, but it’s really just a beat, and my mind sorts out problems. Ideas come and go, and they don’t stick, but it does something to my brain. It makes my brain more creative. All the problem solving that comes while my feet are hitting the pavement shows up in the form of writing.

And running is a form of discipline. There are times when I’m running and I feel like stopping. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I stop, and I turn around, and I walk to the house. Sometimes when I do that I feel defeated by myself. Mad at myself. Sometimes I feel okay, because I listened to my body. And there are times when I’m running where I push through. I slow down and then I speed up again, and I achieve my goal of completing the run. These are the times I think I can apply to writing. Pushing through the times where the story feels like it’s going nowhere by just writing some crap-words on paper and getting to the next good part. I need to learn how to apply the discipline I have in my running to my writing. Because we all know that without hard work, we don’t get anywhere. Without the hours of sweat and toil, and manuscripts tossed aside, I would never be published.

So for the next few months, I’m going to work on bringing discipline back to my life, not only with my running but with my writing. I started by joining a MOOC over at www.novoed.com called How Writer’s Write Fiction: Storied Women Writers. I’m hoping this will get me started again and allow me to finish something, then revise, then submit, and then hopefully, one day, publish again.

I’m A Finisher!

This weekend I did something I never thought I’d do. A few years ago, I never would have been capable of this. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to try. Eff that shit! I’m a half-marathon runner now! How things change!

My sisters and I decided in November to run the 2016 Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee. This race is huge, like 30,000 people. If you haven’t read my updates from before, I suffered a stress fracture at the end of February. It derailed my training until the first week of April. I went into this half feeling nervous, unprepared, and afraid of the hills.

We arrived on Friday night, and my sisters and I hung out and talked, and tried to calm our nerves. We ate a huge carby meal of spaghetti with meatballs then went to bed. When we woke up in the morning, we discovered the rain threat we were worried about the day before was gone. All our weather apps said it was cloudy with 0% chance of rain.

So how come there was rain when we arrived at the race?

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I have a tendency to make my eyes huge and crazy when I smile big for pictures!

I wasn’t so nervous at this point. It also helped that I kept getting texts saying the race was delayed because of “weather conditions.” I never heard the thunder, but apparently it was in the vicinity. So, we all waited.

And then we made our way to our corrals. When we got to the drop off point for my sisters, corral 25, Allison started crying. She was so emotional. There were like 30,000 people, and the first few corrals had already started by the time we arrived to ours. Plus, before you run a half your heart is beating fast and your stomach is in your throat. You have about a million emotions coursing through you. Kelsey, Allison and I hugged. I’m so happy I decided to do this with my sisters. It has brought us so much closer over the last year. What an amazing accomplishment to achieve together. I’ll remember this moment for the rest of my life.

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Then I walked my butt back to the 2:50 time at corral 35. I’d decided to start further back, because I was worried about my foot. And at the corral, I met a lovely girl to run with part of the time. And hung out with 20,000ish people.

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We slowly made our way forward to the start line. My heart beat fast. I was scared, but also psyched, because I knew that after a few hours of running I’d be a half-marathon runner, and it would be over. Plus there were tacos and beer after the finish line, and then an awesome party at Paige’s house. I wanted to run for the beer! (We ate at Mas Tacos afterwards — if you’re in Nashville check it out. Delish!)

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My corral is next!

Then the run started. And let me tell you. It was HARD. Hills for days. And Montgomery doesn’t have many hills or hills so high and long. My parents parked at almost mile 3 and then coming back they were at almost mile 8. And when I saw them the first time the thing that flew out of my mouth was, “This is so hard!” My mom worried about me after that. But I kept going. The hardest part seemed to be finding my stride. There were so many people, I had to weave around a lot, and my breathing was off because of the humidity that set in after the rain started. I did okay for the first 6 miles, keeping my min/miles below 12, but after 6 I had to start walk/running a lot. At mile 7, I stopped and hugged my dad and told him my hip hurt, and that it was hard, and I felt like crying. But his hug gave me energy, and I took off for a few more minutes, until the next hill showed up.

The worst part of the whole race was the hill at mile 12.5. I mean, who does that? But I snapped this great picture of one of the signs The signs were hilarious! There was one that said WTF (Where’s the Finish?). And the Trump signs too: Run Like Trump is President and If Trump Can Run, Then So Can You! (I wish I’d snapped pictures of those!)

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Even the marathon runners hated THAT hill. On the hill, my friend of a lifetime, Andrea sat with her husband, so I pushed up and past her and then yelled back to her, “I had to run past you, but now I’m going to walk!” And we both laughed.

Then coming to mile 13, we had a downhill, and all I could think about was the beer I’d get to drink in just a few minutes and why there had to be a stupid .1 tacked onto a half-marathon. I thought I’d cry going over the finish line, but I didn’t. I felt euphoric. And the runner’s high didn’t wear off all day. I finished in 2:50:34 according to their clocks. (That included a potty break that Runkeeper timed as 1.5 minutes). And Runkeeper stated I ran 13.82 miles in 2:48. This is because I didn’t run the tangents, and the weaving adds mileage to your run, so no 13.1 is actually 13.1 unless you’re a pro at running tangents. In this race it would have been impossible, with all the walkers and the runners. It was so crowded.

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My proudest achievement

Overall, this was a great experience. And the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. To run a half-marathon you have to have perseverance and fortitude. And for me, it helped that I had my sisters and my parents support along the way. I couldn’t wait to have my beer, hug my sisters, and tell them how proud I was of them! What an amazing achievement. If you’re thinking of running a half, go for it! Maybe start with a flatter half, but the Nashville half was super fun and I’d recommend it!

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My sisters and I enjoying a beer after the run

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Countdown

Five days until the half-marathon. It’s crazy, because forever I felt like it was far away. And here it is. And I don’t feel ready. I mean, I can run 12 miles. Or at least walk/run and feel like I’m dying with my breathing or possibly my legs might fall off. The thing I’m most worried about is the heat and humidity. It’s supposed to be 90 degrees in Nashville on Saturday. The thing I’m looking forward to most is seeing my sisters. I love how this journey has brought us closer this year. We are all striving to do the same thing, and the common goal has brought us together. That’s pretty awesome if you think about it.

I haven’t been writing, and last week I didn’t even blog. I have been soul searching a little bit. (Of course, because don’t I always?) This week, my eleven year old told me that maybe he didn’t want to do gymnastics next year. And when I asked him why he said, “Because it’s gotten hard and it’s not as fun as it used to be.” In all my wisdom I said, “Well, if you want to quit you can. It’s your choice. But you have to make sure you’re quitting for the right reason. Are you quitting because it’s hard and you don’t like hard work? Or are you quitting because you’re ready to try something else?”

And then I went for a run with Sean on Saturday morning, and the first 2 miles were fucking amazing. Fast. And then I said I wanted to walk. And we walked/ran the last 2 miles. On the way home in the car I complained about running the half again. “Why the hell am I even doing this? It’s so stupid.” And Sean said, “You may have a bit of Caden in you. You want to quit when it gets hard.”

And he was right: I do. I’ve always had a huge amount of motivation, and I get to a certain point and then I just don’t feel like doing it anymore. So this weekend I was thinking of that in terms of my writing instead of my running. I’ve been in a funk. I started a difficult novel. And I’m 30,000 words in, and I’m stuck. But the thing is–I know what’s going to happen and how to finish it but writing it is hard. It’s hard for a million reasons, because of emotions, and the voice, and all the shit that will make it good in the end. And I also think that’s why I’ve had a hard time editing Little Birdhouses. I’ve always been the type of person who sets a goal, finishes something, then moves on to the next big thing. But I don’t want to be like that with my writing. I want to make it a lifetime of work. I want to work through the discomfort. I want to get to the end and really have produced something amazing that readers can relate to. I want to query, live through the rejection, and, eventually, become a famous writer. I have this incredible talent and this amazing dream, but I can tell you I’m never going to get there if my attitude is the same as it’s been the last few months. No one ever gets anywhere by not working hard and giving up before they’ve reached the finish line.

It’s funny, because after my talk with my running buddy on Saturday I went running with my girlfriends on Sunday morning and I had all this incredible energy. I think I could have finished the half marathon easily that day. My attitude had changed, and I felt like I’d just push through. Now if only I could apply that to my writing.

Innately, I know that success comes from hard work, and part of the feeling of accomplishment is working hard to get there. But in reality, putting that into practice is difficult for me. And yes, I know I have lots of valid excuses: three kids, husband, day job, and PTA, but in the end I need those factors to motivate me instead of serving as a roadblock to my success.

Suggestions are welcome. Do you feel like you hold yourself back from achieving your dreams?

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Resolutions for 2016

There’s a cold front sailing into Montgomery encapsulated in three-six inches of rain, and unfortunately the storm seems to be raging in my head. I’ve had a headache for two days now, and no amount of nasal spray, Allegra D, Sudafed, Tylenol, or Advil seems to be helping it.

It seems fitting to wake up on New Year’s Eve with a headache. Starting a new year is like a fresh start. Oh the possibilities. But sometimes the only way to get to where you want in life is to suffer pain and heartache (or in this case, a terrible headache). This headache is a little reminder to me this morning of how far I came this year in my own life.

I’m a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I know they say only 30% of people achieve those resolutions, but for the last few years I’ve been in that 30%. The hint to achieving your resolutions is to set small, measurable, attainable goals.

For instance, instead of saying: I’m going to lose weight. Say: I’m going to lose 15 lbs. Or instead of saying: I’m giving up all sugar forever and ever, say: I’m going to give up drinking soda. Instead of saying: I’m going to become the next great author this year, say: my goal is to publish one book. Seriously, measurable and realistic.

So what’s my resolution? I have one main resolution, and I’m sure I’ll add goals as the year goes on.

  • Finish revising Little Birdhouses and start querying.

That’s it. I’ve been sitting on it and not doing what I need to do with it, and it’s starting to annoy me. So I know I need to finish. I’ll query it, and if that doesn’t go my way then maybe I’ll submit it to Booktrope. They published my book, The Devil Within, which has been moderately successful.

I have a couple of things I’d like to achieve this year as well, which aren’t really resolutions but just items on my list to check off.

  • Run a Half-Marathon – this is a biggie and scares the crap out of me, but is also really exciting.
  • Finish working on The Cape and start revisions.

That’s it folks. What are your resolutions this year?


 

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Excuses

This is the excuse post. The one that explains what the hell I’ve been doing in the last week and half since you haven’t heard from me. Mostly it’s because it’s Christmas time, and Christmas time is crazy-busy time in my already crazy-busy world.

Also, I chose not to work out on Monday so I could stay home and watch Christmas Vacation, snuggle on the couch with the kids, and eat popcorn. I have my priorities straight!

But seriously, I want you to know this blog isn’t going silent, but the next few months I have a lot going on so I will not be posting as much as usual.

  1. Christmas Time: Of course! How many parties can be fit into one month? Can I get all my Christmas shopping done and wrap and still escape with my sanity?
  2. Gymnastics Season here we come. In case you’re new here and didn’t know, my oldest son is a gymnast and gymnastics season kicked off in November, but it beefs up in January and February. We will be crazy busy, but I hope to post some of his videos here if I get a new camera for Christmas. He’s pretty amazing. I’m not biased!
  3. I may be am a little crazy, because I’m actually entertaining the idea of running a half-marathon with my sisters in April. Here’s the training schedule I’m doing, and as you can see it’s taking up A LOT of my mornings that I used to use for blogging. I’m still not certain I can do it, but heck, I’m going to try!
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  5. I can’t get rid of that 4 above and bring it down below, so you’ll just have to deal!
  6. I’ve been really into reading this month. I read I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson, and it was flipping fantastic. I highly recommend it.

All of these excuses to say that I’m really sorry! I hope to post at least once a week in the next couple of months, but wanted to stop by to tell you a little bit about what’s going on in my crazy life. Also, if you’re a subscriber to my newsletter, a new one will be coming out on December 31, 2015!


 

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