Saturday, May 21, 2011

A runner’s view - how do YOU write a novel?

I’m a runner – technically, I’m a jogger but running sounds more vigorous – and somehow my body and I always have the same conversation, no matter the distance I run or the speed. It goes like this:

I walk the first five minutes, to get the blood flowing.
My body: “It’s a bit chilly. We could pick up the pace.”
I say: “Wait a bit, it’s not long.”

We start jogging, my body is all happy and easy and it goes fine. Until we hit the first uphill.
Body: “This is harsh, man! You know how far it is? You really think we can do this?”
I say: “Yeah, it’s tough, but if it gets worse, we’ll just give up and go home. No harm done.” “Alright,” my body says, “let’s give it a try.”

We plough on, and it’s alright. We have reached about a third of the way and my body gives up a great sigh. “We’ve got nowhere! I’m exhausted! It can’t have reached only this short. We’re screwed. We can’t do it.” I give it a stern glare and say nothing. We continue.

Somehow it eases up, probably because we’ve gone downhill and the music was great. Then we hit two thirds of the way. My body gets real upset. “My tummy hurts! I’m nauseous. It’s frigging hot!” I grit my teeth: “It’s not going to get better if we stop. The faster we get home, the faster we can feel better.” My body grumbles.

And then - there it is! - an opening among the trees, the end of the track! My body has a bounce in its step, a longer stride. It feels great! Why don’t we do this more often? We are almost at the end, and I clear my throat. “You know we’re going to jog home as well? It’s still some way to go.” My body takes the reminder in a stride. “Oh darn. It can’t be that bad though, we’ve gone so far already.” We can do it.

“My knee hurts!” it says suddenly. “And my ankle. This isn’t working. If we keep going, we’ll be MAIMED FOR LIFE.” I waver – it might be right. “It’s only happened like once,” I argue. “And usually it’s nothing – the odds are on our side. Besides, it’s hurt much worse before.” It’s true – it has. So we keep at it.

Then there it is. Home – in all its brick-clad wonderfulness. We run, faster, stronger, like we were real runners and could go for miles. We round corners like motorcycle riders. Then, the last stretch, 50 yards. We run, rush, dash. Release all that we had, which we never thought we would muster (even though we know we have before).

And it’s over. We’re home, we’re through, we’ve made it.

I might have ended up with a dead bug in my bra, but it feels good. My body is excited, exhausted, exorcised (exercised with a vengeance!). I smile. “You did good,” I tell it. “You did fantastic. You’re the best.”

When it comes down to it, writing a novel is very similar. Don’t you think?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why I write

Because I've never been able to say it this clearly, and though it might not be true for everyone, it's definitely true for me:

"A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood. The writer wants to be understood much more than he wants to be respected or praised or even loved."
— Leo Rosten - American Novelist