Home > Trip > Dispatches > Local Dispatches > Local Dispatch #40

January 15, 2012: Just Do It

I often think metaphorically, comparing this and that and the other. This is my way of making sense of the nonsensical. If the metaphor doesn’t hold up, I abandon it. If it does, I pull it close and hold it up to the light. My latest comparison had to with writing and running. I was out riding Raudi when I again thought of this. I tried to shake it because I didn’t want to pursue it. But it stuck with me the rest of the afternoon, so here it is.

I’m a writer who is currently running a marathon. I’m now in the middle of the pack. Dead square in the middle, I say. I’m also at the 13.1 mile mark. I have a


good number of miles behind me, and a good number more to go. I started dead last, and have been slowly inching my way past the other runners.

I used to ask myself, why am I doing this? I don’t ask this anymore. I just keep plugging away, because the truth be known, I’m past the point of no return. Quitting now, after getting this far would be a useless gesture. I may as well just keep going. I have many years of experience/training under my belt, and to bow out now would be senseless. The prospect of letting everyone else pass and opting to help with the cleanup doesn’t appeal to me. I’d much rather finish, and then go back and help with the cleanup.

Some days, like today, I happily put one foot in front of the next. Right now, the going is good. I’m on a slight downhill grade, and feeling energized. I’ve been working on Raudi’s Story, and am not encountering major stumbling blocks. I have direction, and I know what I’m going to be doing with it in the next few days. I’ve made a list of things that I need to include. And after I’m done with this, I’ll resume sending out proposals. Maintaining my momentum—this is crucial.

I’ve had days when a less pleasing marathon metaphor comes back to mind. I’m convinced of this—and I have plenty of examples. Writers, who come in all shapes and sizes, share a commonality, and this is that they are to varying degrees, competitive. I have surmised that this is because we live in a time in which the written world is undervalued. Reject notices are pro forma, and pay (often) non-existent. And so we often look askance at one another, hoping against hope that we’ll be the one to cross the finish line first. Come in first, and you get a contract with a major publisher.

It’s the rare marathoner who out of the goodness of their heart lets another runner pass. It’s also a rare writer that out of the pure goodness of their heart, gives another an assist. Today I decided to abandon the competitive metaphor, and replace it with one that’s more collaborative. Should anyone ever want me to read a draft of their work, or ask for a publication suggestion, I’m going to drop what I’m doing, and give them an assist. I’ve come to think this way after spending so much time loping along, in the middle of the pack. This, in terms of my personal growth, is fortuitous. If early on, I’d been a front runner, I would not now see things this way. My ego would be a big as all outdoors. But my knowing what it’s like to be (in a manner of speaking) tread milling, has made me empathetic to the concerns of those who are either running alongside or are behind me.

I should add that I will try to reciprocate, should anyone else offer me a hand. This would make me feel good. Is it possible for us to all be in this together? Only time will tell, and she’s awfully tight lipped. I hope she lets us know what she’s thinking.

Next: 41. 1/16/12: Tool Using Man