Tag Archives: moving forward

Running down a dream

Today, I ran my first half marathon. It has been a goal six years in the making. I came close in 2008, but then a stupid injury sidelined me. Illness, a couple of surgeries and pure laziness kept me from succeeding.

Last January, when I was on a trip to LA with my sister, I knew I had to make a big change in my life. My health had to become my priority.

After nine months of training (with a 2 month break because of travel and a mild case of laziness), I ran the Niagara International Half Marathon

After the run, with our hard earned medals.

After the run, with our hard earned medals.

with my husband, who has also been my awesome and patient coach. It was hard. My legs are not fully functional and probably won’t be for days. My head hurts. And I feel awesome.

I finally reached this goal because I had a plan: “do this much running on these days for this many weeks.” I had to start with a walking plan to build up my fitness. Then my running had to increase to be able to run 10 minutes and walk 1. And then my mileage had to build from 3 km all the way up to 20, and finally 21 km today. It meant running when I didn’t want to. There was a lot of swearing, I won’t lie. A bit of whining too. The couch would be calling, but Dave would be in his running gear and I knew I had to get my ass in gear.

At the beginning, I was scared that I would fail again. That it would continue to be this illusive goal. Right up until I went over the finish line, I was afraid I couldn’t do it.

Stickers helped me to celebrate my progress. Apparently, I'm 8 years old.

Stickers helped me to celebrate my progress. Apparently, I’m 8 years old.

But I did it.

And now I know I can apply the same approach to writing. I went back and re-read my notes and outline. I’m pretty happy with a lot of it, but I’ve also forgotten a lot of the direction I was heading. I’ve been intimidated by the historical research I need to do. Intimidated by the character sketches and plot points.

No more. It’s time to at start by walking, not just talking about it. So it will start with dividing the work I need to do into one month chunks, researching one key topic at a time, then developing character sketches, then moving on to those plot points.  I won’t do it if I allow the intimidation to stall me or if I try to do everything at once.

I know today won’t be my last half marathon (not quite ready to commit to a full marathon yet). I am thankful for how it has prepared me to go after the biggest goal of my life.

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Starting over

About a hundred years ago, I was in fourth year university, working on my thesis. One particularly deflating day, I left my advisor’s office close to tears wondering how I was going to find it in me to fix the problems she’d pointed out. I remember how I had miserably whined to her, “You practically want me to start over.” She didn’t let me off the hook.

A few weeks later I was back in her office, thesis re-written. She gave me the thumbs up that I was almost ready to defend it. I’ll never forget her encouragement, “You were so worried about re-writing it, but you did it. Was that so bad?” In reality, the thought of it was much worse than actually digging in and doing it.

My life this past year has had a lot of starting over. Professionally I took a leap of faith that hasn’t quite turned out the way I thought, but now I have an opportunity I thought I’d have to wait years for. Personally, I’m starting over on a few goals that have been dogging me for years. This is my year not to give up on me. And then there’s writing.

After taking a bit of break from blogging and writing, I’m back, and, I am starting over. Over the last few weeks, I have been working through the mechanics of writing, character development and story structure. I had to admit that my beautifully crafted treatment, was boring and soulless. A great big yawn.

At first, my stomach dropped. I got that mildly throw uppy feeling. My face twitched a bit. In that moment, I had a choice to make. I could go all Hulk and throw my notebook across the room and yell, “I don’t want to play anymore” and give up, or I could get to work. I decided to keep Smash Etta at bay. I’ve learned it’s much more productive to get excited about the possibilities than to mourn what didn’t work out.

Besides, writing is like a constant exercise in starting over. If I can’t handle that truth, I need to put down the pen and step away.

The thought of starting over is a bit like having a big white wall to climb, but it doesn’t have to be terrifying. I don’t have to do it without ropes and steps – that’s what planning is about. It won’t be easy, but it really isn’t impossible. And, unlike any other part of  life, on the page, I can take insane risks and really let loose, without worrying about the consequences.  Giuliana is going on some adventures, some of which may actually make it to the finished product.

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A break through

I love a great breakthrough. My favourite kind is when I’m writing and the ideas fall in to place and it feels like the story is writing itself.

This breakthrough wasn’t like that. I don’t have a finished manuscript in front of me. The beauty of this breakthrough is that it will let me eventually get to that goal.

I took a break from writing. Well, that’s not completely true. It wasn’t as much a  break as it was giving up. I got completely stuck on “oh my god, do I have an adequate concept.”

I spun. I twisted. I fretted. I didn’t t write. I didn’t move forward.

To be fair, there was also a little matter of my mom ending up in the hospital. Between the back and forth and spending copious time in the depths of fear and worry, I didn’t have the time or energy.

While that’s the truth, I also had to ask myself, “Self, do you have the will?”

I was going to give it another week of laziness, using the fact that we’re at a cottage as an excuse. But then I was left alone for a few hours. The book I’m reading wasn’t calling me. I found the perfect place to study.

Instead of moving ahead to the next competency in the book, I reread the  section on concept. Maybe it’s the fresh air or the fact the sun is finally shining or maybe it’s the rice crispie square I ate with great gusto. What ever the reason, this time I was less uptight about the whole thing. This time different words stood out to me:

“At some point”
“During the process”
“Can’t ever know for sure”

You mean I don’t have to be perfect?

With that breakthrough, that bit of permission, I could move forward. I was able to see that I can’t be married to every element of my original idea and came up with a couple of ways  to improve my concept. The rest will continue to unfold. I’m early on and need to take my time – as long as I keep going.

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