Tag Archives: running

Quick blog post, March

oeufs a la neige
Quick blog post…

Read/Reading:

Finished Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Amazing book.

Now reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.  The voice of the narrator is irritating me. (Update: Got to page 81 in the book, the moment of The Big Reveal. Yes, now I realize why the narrator was irritating me: she was KEEPING A SECRET FROM THE READER. I wanted to hit her).

I am reading with an unparalleled desperate neediness; my novel revision is off to a slow start and thus I’m trying to find inspiration in reading. The last book to inspire me as a writer was 2666 by Bolaño. The things that man did with his craft! What’s the best novel you’ve read that also brought you insights on the craft of writing?

Wrote/Writing:
Finished the novel.  Not inspired to write a short story.  Thus, beginning revisions on my novel–but…tough going.  Fixing something that I found difficult the first time around is…difficult. Wow, I sound like a real bummer–but that’s what my writing is these days.  And yet, I still do it because get this: I LOVE IT. There’s nothing else I’d rather do.

Viewed:
My dogs licking themselves over and over and over.

The Olympics’ figure skating events. I haven’t watched figure skating in several years, and so all the names (Lysacek! Plushenko! Johnny Weir!  Yuna Kim!) are totally fresh and new to me. The fact that they’re all still drama queens has not changed.

That said, I’m SO glad the Olympics is OVER.

Also watching L O S T.  Anticipating how the series and character storylines will wrap up.  Please writers, don’t let us down!  I’m learning a ton about flashbacks (and writing flashbacks effectively) from the show.

Memorable eats:
Oranges. Lots of oranges. Mrm.

Ate Out:
Pizzaiolo. Tacubaya. Gordo burritos. Yum yum.

Cooked:
Oeufs a la neige (surprisingly good!). Curry chicken (the Japanese kind). Homemade ground beef tacos (well, the hubby cooked these).  Radish and tofu soup (better than it sounds).

Happenings:

  • Running. I ran ON the ROAD for the first time ever!  Around Lake Merritt–it was a good enough experience that I want to do it again. (My overall goal for this flurry of fitness is that I want to look/feel better at 40 than I did at 30. I’ve got 3 years to make good on this goal).
  • Two inches closer to my waistline goal. I fit into my “dream jeans!” Now I have to get to a point where I can wear my “dream jeans” without a muffin top.
  • Prepping my vegetable garden. Nothing as therapeutic, really, especially when my writing hits a nadir.
  • Dreaming about my novel. Really, I do.
  • Dreaming about travel to NYC and specifically, Queens, where my novel is set, to do some novel research. I want to explore Little Bay park and Throgs Neck bridge and Flushing…
  • Released ladybugs into my garden. Eat aphids, little ones!
  • Spring is almost here. Ahchoo.  I’ll miss winter.
  • Teaching has its unique challenges this semester. I hope I live up to them.
  • Dreaming of summer–and I detest summer. But I’m a teacher now, and summer means vacation!  Yay! I plan on revising the hell out of my novel throughout the summer. I’ll be pale and non-sun-kissed, but I don’t care.
  • Snow snow snow snow snow up in the Sierras. Guess what, this snow lover is actually SICK of snow. I don’t even know what the East Coasters must feel like right now, with all the snow they’ve received this winter.
  • I like going to open houses.  Walking around in other people’s homes inspires me as a writer. I went to an open house this afternoon–a gorgeous mansion in disrepair.  I imagined Miss Havisham traveling the grounds.
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Running and writing for endurance

new running shoes

One of my mentors, in the years before he won his Pulitzer and before he’d finished writing his first novel, said that writing a novel changes your brain chemistry. If he were not fastidiously groomed as usual that day, I would have imagined a grizzled beard and weary eyes based on the tone of his battle weary but proud voice in saying so.

I have, in the years since, anticipated and welcomed the change in my brain as I wrote my novel’s first draft. And I *could* feel my brain changing–I wasn’t sure if it was because of the years of work involved and the course of life wending its way alongside the writing, or if it was the writing itself; regardless, I knew the time spent on my novel was changing me. For the better–and for that fact alone, I would still be happy in the completion of my draft, even if it were not published, even if it were not read by anyone else in the world.

At times, the writing was slow going, and my brain felt rusty and resistant to change even if I wanted it; what could I do to help my brain accommodate the novel writing? In the world of athletics, athletes stretch to warm up, they consume foods that optimize their physical performance…what could I do to help my writing?

After reading Murakami’s book on running (the pleasant What I Talk About When I Talk About Running) , I learned that there is a way to prepare your brain for the landscape of endurance and long distance. According to Haruki Murakami, running is the best training for writing a novel.

It makes sense–a writer sits at a desk, every day in singleminded determination and focus to write words down until she assembles tens of thousands of words, if not hundreds of thousands of words that comprise a novel. It is a grueling feat of mental and physical endurance, one that, according to Murakami is “an act of manual labor,” one that requires “far more energy, over a long period, than most people ever imagine.”

And so, inspired by Murakami’s statement that “most of what I know about writing I’ve learned through running everyday,” I set out to run, first at an intermittent trot/walk of one mile distance, then working my way up to five kilometers and then beyond.

I have never been a runner. Running has had me gasping in pain my whole life, but I wanted to really try. For some people, exercise comes from a motivation to fit into a dress, others are motivated out of a drive to improve health–and I, I discovered, was motivated by a desire to improve my writing, no matter how far-fetched the connection. Plus, I had a hole in my heart that was only recently closed, and I was eager to try out my new heart on my new regimen that would change my brain and my writing.

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