Day 149: The Hard Things

For the last three nights, I’ve pushed myself to go to the gym. I didn’t want to. It’s not easy. My youngest is in summer camp, which means I pick him up at 3 to go home. Normally he gets home on the bus at 2:45, and home life starts from there. I sign in to work, work on whatever comes in, throw in some laundry or consider what to make for dinner, and if time allows, I run to the gym at 4-ish. With this change in the schedule, everything’s pushed back and time is at a premium, so I’ve been going to the gym at something closer to 6 or even 7, which gets me home closer to 8. Mostly I’ve been putting the boys’ dinner together ahead of time. Because I’m a veggie, I eat a different meal anyway, and since it’s hot, salad has worked out just fine.

But add that I need to get the revised partial back to The Sheila contest, too. I do as much as I can during lunch but the time I need to focus on the changes I want to make to the story? Mostly I do my thinking in the car between work, camp, and home. I haven’t turned on the TV in two days. I just didn’t care enough about anything to let myself be distracted.

Yesterday between dinner and 7, I decided I needed to go for a run. Not just needed, but needed. As in, my training runs are going to be 5 days a week and so far I’m only doing 2. I need to get up to 3 for the next couple of weeks, and then boost it to 4 before scheduled training runs start the first week in August. But before dinner we had a massive downpour: pitch black skies, sheets of rain, you name it. I may have seen a terrier in a basket fly by. The rain subsided between dinner and my food coma nap, and I thought, “But it’s so icky and steamy out. I should go to the gym…but I don’t feel like driving that far. Maybe I’ll sk–”

Cue the inner critic reminding me what a slouch I am, and how I’m going to make a total botch out of this marathon. I got up then and there, got my socks, changed clothes, pulled my hair up in a ponytail, and without another thought I went out to run at the park. Yes, the first mile was like running in a moving dryer full of damp clothes. More than once I thought, “You don’t need to do 5 miles. Four, or even 3 would be fine.” No, dammit, I’m doing five.

The last mile was the best. I hit my stride, I felt good, and I passed 6 teenage boys out for a walk by the stream. Honestly, they made me nervous. I’m probably not faster and they had numbers. There’ve been a lot of attacks in the area lately and I didn’t want to be a statistic, so I hit the gas…and it felt great. Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” came on my iPod and I found my back kick and off I went, all the way to the stop sign a block ahead. 🙂

But the main thing was, I was out there, sweating my tail off, wearing my OAR singlet, running in the heat. I did it. I didn’t want to. I knew it would be uncomfortable, but it was good and it was worth it.

In mile 4 I had an idea for the ending on the manuscript I’m working on that pulled together what I’ve been trying to do for a while: bring the heroine to her knees. No, not like that, but I knew she had to lose everything before she could truly save herself. I had to make her situation so dire that she would willingly go back to who she was, even though she hated that person. When the thought hit me, I pulled out my cell phone and tried to dictate it into speech-to-text. I didn’t have my glasses on, and when I got home, the result was so far from what I’d intended that it barely made sense, but I managed to piece it together into notes and then finish the rewrite of the synopsis. From there I can make the changes to the manuscript, though I will say it’s embarrassing how weak the original ending is. I only hope I’ve learned from this, and next time it won’t be so difficult to make the heroine miserable.

As I was taking off at the end of mile 4, passing 6 teenage boys who probably thought I was the oldest, fattest lady they’d ever seen attempting to run, it hit me: in writing as in running, I have to do the hard things in order to be better. I have to do exactly what I’m afraid of to get the best result possible. There’s a reason, something in my psyche (and probably everyone’s, to some degree, except that guy who sky-dove off a satellite) that says, “You can’t do this. It’s too scary. It’s too hard. Go crochet something instead,” or whatever your emotional junk food of choice is. But for the past few days, and yesterday in particular, I’ve made myself do the hard things, and I’ve gotten damn good results.

I’m tempted to not watch TV again tonight, but we’ll see. Last night I finished the synopsis revisions at 10:30 and said, “Oh yeah, break time,” and I read some more in “Game of Thrones.” I’m already hooked into it and I’m not 50 pages in. I can even forgive the backstory info-dumps because it’s so well written into the narrative. It was a real treat to take thirty minutes off and sit and read someone else’s work. Maybe there’ll be more time for that tonight, or maybe I’ll keep pushing through the hard things, because I want someone some day to pull out one of my books as a treat earned for a day well spent.

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