NaNoWriMo: Method to the Madness
Today, I am delighted to welcome Abbey Algiers as my guest blogger. Abbey is a teacher, marathon runner, writer—and a great inspiration to me! Enjoy!
Method to the Madness by Abbey Algiers
Nine years ago, a friend and I were talking at a party. It was pretty crowded, with loud music playing directly behind us, making it hard to hear. I missed a lot of what he was saying, so decided to nod often instead of asking him to repeat. I did catch the part of our conversation where he told me he was training for a marathon with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I thought he asked me if I’d sponsor him, to which I whole-heartedly agreed. In reality, he asked me if I wanted to run the marathon too, a fact I didn’t realize until he was leaving and said, “Hey, I’ll see you at the group run tomorrow at 7:30.”
“What?” I wasn’t sure what he was talking about.
He suggested I had one too many glasses of wine, and then repeated the question he must have asked when I was pretending to hear him. “I asked you earlier if you wanted to run the marathon too. You said yes. Now you have to, you agreed to it.”
Well, I knew that technically I didn’t have to do it, but running a marathon was something I had always wanted to do. And, since I believe in signs, I thought that accidentally agreeing to do a marathon might be a sign that the time was right to give it a try.
I decided to go to the run and meet my friend. But here’s the thing—I was terrified. Although I’d run all my life, I hadn’t really considered myself a runner. Runners ran all the time. Runners had cute running outfits. Runners regularly quoted Runner’s World and didn’t eat junk food and certainly didn’t drink (lots of) wine. I wasn’t that kind of runner, and I most certainly wasn’t a marathon runner. That was a whole other breed of runner… marathon runners did like 15 miles a day, didn’t they? I didn’t have time for that! Those thoughts racing around in my mind that morning were the very same thoughts that had prevented me from trying a marathon earlier in my life.
When I got to the run, the “big, hot shot marathon runners” I was expecting to see actually looked exactly like me. They weren’t superstars. Yes, they were fit, and yes they were dedicated to healthy living, but nothing about this group intimidated me. I started to feel a bit more comfortable, but I was still nervous about the training plan. A coach handed me the schedule, which outlined the mileage for that day and the next four months of training. Hmm – a 5 mile run Monday, 5 on Tuesday, rest Wednesday (we got a day off?)… a long run of 8-10 Saturday. I scanned ahead to see a schedule that gradually built up the base I’d need to see me through the marathon.
So this was the big secret behind marathon running? You didn’t have to run crazy distances every day, you just had to run consistently and slowly build up. There was a method to the madness and by following a training plan, I learned how to prepare for that first marathon and the marathons that followed.
This is the reason I no longer fear marathons. I’ve figured out how to train, how to deal with the hard days, and how to dig deep when the going gets tough. I’ve got the marathon formula down.
I think a lot of the anxiety I felt before my first marathon parallels what I’m feeling as I approach National Novel Writing Month. I’ve always loved to write. I asked for a typewriter in first grade, for crying out loud. Writing assignments were my favorite all throughout school. Now, in addition to my day job, I have several freelance writing gigs, a blog, and I’ve written a short book which I self-published. I write all the time. Yet, I don’t consider myself a true writer because the novel I’ve been working on for the past nine years remains… unfinished. I’ve talked about finishing this book. I’ve visualized it being on the shelves of bookstores and libraries. I’ve had fantasies of being in an airport and seeing someone reading my book. Yet, I am paralyzed, stuck in unfinished novel land without a map, GPS, or clue of how to write myself to the end. It all just seems so overwhelming.
Or at least it seemed overwhelming until I came across Write-A-Thon… a book that compares writing a novel to running a marathon. I “get” marathons, and the more I read this book, the more I see that I can finish my book, and can even do so in 26 days. I just need to be disciplined, focused, and ready to work hard like I am when I’m training for a marathon.
So now, just like I committed to training for my first marathon, I am committing to writing and finishing my book during the month of November. As my mom told me when I was in the midst of my graduate degree, “The time is going to pass by whether you do it or not; you might as well just go ahead and finish that program.” With that thought, I will enter November, a month that will pass whether I write the novel or not, and look forward to the final day, when I will be able to say that my book… is finally done. Of course not done-done, as edits will need to be done, and the whole search for an agent or publisher will begin. BUT, I will be more done than I’ve been in the past 9 years!
Am I nervous? A little. But, I have resources to help me through. I have the collective energy of all of the other writers in the world who are taking part in this adventure. And, a book that speaks to the runner in me is guiding me.
So, just as I hunker down when I commit to each of my marathons, I hunker down now to write my novel. I will be methodical and deliberate in doing what I need to do each and every day, so I’ll be done in some form or another at the end of the month. I am confident that I will do what it takes each day and I know that I absolutely will not quit- because quitting isn’t an option. My husband reminded me of this fact when we were discussing the writing marathon. “You’re going to finish this, I know you are… after all, you wouldn’t stop at mile 16 in a marathon because you’re tired, would you?” Here’s to hearing him say, “I knew you could do it” on December 1.
About the Author. Abigail Algiers is a teacher by day, writer by night, and runner/yogi in between to keep it all together. She trains for marathons year round, and consequently has a lot of “think time” on the road. She uses inspiration gathered from her runs to write articles for her blog. Algiers published The Great Search in 2009. This short story chronicles the journey of one woman as she searches for “the one.” Visit Abbey online at http://www.abagailalgiers.com