Writing the miles

I am a runner. There is something compelling about moving under your own power. Not that I find it easy. I’m terribly slow and I suspect I look like I’m in pain despite my protestations to the opposite. I breathe like an obscene caller and sweat buckets, although my husband says that when it comes to sweat, I’m an amateur. Those of you who know my husband know that compared to him, most us look like novices no matter what the category.

My neighborhood is a good place to run, and there are a few routes that I like depending upon how many miles I want to put in based on the heat, how my knee is feeling, how much wine I had the night before. Most of my longer paths include a loop on Pensive Lane–downhill on the way out, uphill on the way back. At the top of the hill is a white mailbox.

When I reach that hill, at a minimum, I’ve already run a couple of miles. The only way to get home is to get my tired butt up that grade. It’s not steep, but it is long. Long enough that the while mailbox is lit up by the sun, like a  beacon. I fix my gaze on that mailbox, and push forward, knowing that when I get there…

I have at least another mile to go.

I know this. The distance from that mailbox to my house hasn’t changed once, no matter how fervently I’ve wished it would.   I can’t slow down, I can’t let up, and I can only celebrate for a moment, because I’m not done.

I had two pieces accepted for publication this week. Needless to say, I’m thrilled. I set a goal out there, and I’m getting closer to that mailbox every day. It’s bright and shiny and it’s calling to me, and I’m putting one foot after another until I get there. But I know that when I do, I still have a ways to go before I’m done running. And just like my running, once the path I’ve set gets too easy, if it doesn’t push me hard enough, I’ll have to find a harder one.

But when I do finally reach home, I feel at peace, yet energized at the same time. Ready to take on the day. Ready to climb the hill again tomorrow. So I’ll take  a moment and celebrate but no more, because I’m not done. I have a least another mile to run.
Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by mtsofan © 2008 Creative Commons

Waiting for the shoe to drop. Protection or Pessimism?

My husband tells me that I assume the worst of people.  It surprises me because I see myself as positive, having chosen happiness after struggling for years with lingering sadness and anger.  And yet, he has a point.

My mother just celebrated her 80th birthday, which, coincidentally, happened to fall on Easter Sunday.  My father decided to mark the occasion with a surprise party, assembling her scattered children to wish her well.

My mother is not good at surprises, and by surprises, I mean anything that she didn’t plan herself.  My father, in contrast, does not plan at all.  He set the time, the place and the participants.  Everything else was up for grabs.

I was sure disaster was looming just around the corner.  I couldn’t imagine a scenario where my dad didn’t get chewed out for something, and I said so, more than once.  I was anxious, dreading the inevitable conflict.

When my mother arrived at the restaurant and saw us there, all I saw in her face was joy.  I was so sure that she’d miss the point of the day that I almost did.  The sun was shining, and I was looking for the shadow of the shoe that was ready to drop. I mean really, there was cake!  What’s not to love about cake?

I have spent a great deal of time pulling my head into my shoulders, bracing for impact.  It’s left me with adrenaline overload and poor posture, but I rarely get blindsided because I’ve already assumed the blow is coming.  The question is, however, when I wait to be disappointed, disappointment is inevitable, and I miss the joy of anticipation.

So my goal is to be open to great possibilities.  This may be a dangerous strategy as I launch my career as a writer.  Rejection, and lots of it, is in my future.  Even the most successful authors experience it.  Agents toss your query, editors slash your favorite scene, critics call you derivative, some asshat on Amazon gives you one star and you’re not even sure they read the book.  But I’m mentally planning my book launch party, and it will be epic.  Those who don’t like it, don’t have to come.  More cake for the rest of us.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Eliza Adam