Social interaction: it does the brain good. I’ve learned over the past couple years that writing is a very solitary habit. That’s why I write in a coffee shop when I can. I shudder to imagine the subjects I would pursue if I were to sequester myself in a bare room, my face to a wall a la Jonathan Franzen, just me illuminated by a dull Mac glow. Floating, man-eating blobs circa H.P. Lovecraft come to mind, but with the addition of talking Twinkies and overuse of the phrase: “illuminated by a dull Mac glow.” It’s also pretty cool that the Dunn dudes start steeping my breakfast tea when they see my damp head walk through the door.
The solitariness, in all honesty, I can stomach. While I enjoy my friends, I’m not the social prancer I once was. A couple two-hour-and-under outings a week is my limit, especially now that I’m with kiddo and husband. Even a 5-star, 7-course, dress to the 9s dinner doesn’t hold a candle to a date at home with Monster Couch and the fab four of The Voice. What I’m having trouble balancing these days is exercise. As anyone who knows me knows, I’m a runner. But these days, I’m redefining myself. I’m a writer now, and that means if I have a couple hours when Mark, my husband, has offered to be sole entertainer for the babe, I don’t run, I don’t swim, I don’t bike … I write. Of course, I aim to live life in 3-D like any sane person, but between working full-time, being a mom and wife and working on a novel, at the end of the day I have roughly 10 minutes that are unspoken for, and those I spend Googling photos of Eric Bana.
But back to my point: I’ve done 9 marathons since 2000–that’s 6 Twin Cities, 2 Grandma’s, and a Boston. In all except Twin Cities in 2003, I stuck to a purposeful training program that included weekly track or speed workouts, a long run, and a tempo run (a faster paced of longer duration, but not sprinting). I based my pace, weekly mileage, and recovery days based on my goal finish time.
Recently I’ve found myself at a crossroads with my novel. I’m not quite sure where it’s going or how I’m going to get there. I doubt myself and my ability, my talent. I have written scenes, character sketches, setting sketches, and the like, but actual chapters? I got nothing. However, one thing I can say I’m firm on is my ambition. I want to finish this thing, I want to succeed, but most of all, I want to work. I love writing with all my heart. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. There is no other reason I would drag myself out of bed three hours before I’m fully conscious. I love being the first one at Dunn and watching the sunrise sneak up over the pink trees and the bikers start their commutes to work. It’s real and it’s fiery, and I can’t squander that spark. So here’s the deal: I’m putting a cease-and-desist order on getting my panties in a wad over outlines and research and endless preliminary work. I’m moving forward. I’m committing myself to page counts (bump up the mileage!), meeting writers (join a training group), and continuing to research and make an outline BUT in moderation (quality over quantity). It may be a hokey analogy, but it resonates, so I’m going to run with it … oh stop me 🙂
In the meantime, however, I must tend to the ever constant practicality of keeping the ol’ ticker doing what it does best. So I’ve found a compromise that I can live with. Her name is Zuzana Light. She leads amazing, heart-pounding workouts that combine cardio and strength in less than half an hour. Her body is built on nothing more than these daily workouts. I want to share her with you. I’ve been following her for about five years now, but it’s only recently that I’ve devoted my “exercise regimen,” if you will, soley to The Zuz–the perfect remedy for the health-conscious, time-crunched writer. Dan Brown, eat your heart out!