I got up and ran seven miles this morning (a bit over 11 km). I didn’t know whether I was going to do that until I was already on the move. I knew I was going for a run, but not for how far. I had originally planned just a short recovery run to finish off the week, but from out of nowhere just wanted to go long instead.
I threw the plan out and chased my instinct. No speed records broken – this was a slow run, and the first three miles were all uphill (photo above was taken while coming back down) – but the fact that I was doing it just to do it made this the most satisfying run I’ve had for ages.
This feeds back into what I’m doing with my writing at the moment. One thing I’ve learned from the last few months of writing full time is that I dislike planning ahead. I don’t like knowing what the book after the next one I’m writing is. I hate knowing what the one after that is.
Having tried to give the year structure, I ended up resenting myself for exactly that.
I have taken all my plans, scrunched them into a little ball, doused them with paraffin… realised I don’t have any matches because I don’t smoke anymore…
And shuffled away in search of a better metaphor.
Honestly, it felt much more dramatic when I was metaphorically doing it.
I’m done chasing down a full time career as a writer. That’s no longer a goal of mine.
I’d rather just tell stories instead, to people who enjoy them. If there’s a career to be had doing that, then it can come to me. I’m done chasing it.
After years worrying about how to write, for who, in what markets, and so on, all to advance along some nebulous and probably apocryphal ‘career path’, I’ve learned that all of these things are ultimately rather transient distractions that do nothing but build walls between me and the thing I enjoyed doing in the first place. Some people can really get into that whole business thing, and there are aspects of it that I also enjoy, but mostly I just want to tell stories.
So that’s what I’ll continue doing, in my clean slate study, at my Indian Rosewood desk.
I’m not abandoning ambition, but I’m pulling it back from the places I’ve been wasting it and investing it where it always should have stayed. In the story that’s in front of me right now. That’s the only thing that counts, really. Everything else is just white noise.
That’s also the secret of running any sort of distance (for me – I don’t speak for all runners any more than I speak for all writers). It’s never about an end goal. That’s no use when I’m on the move. Running only works well for me when it’s about the mile I’m doing right now.
When I focus on that, everything else either seems to take care of itself or stop mattering.
I’m going to spend the next year writing like I run. I hope to do an awful lot of running, as I said the other day, so I’m going to tie them together (mentally at least).
Everything else will either take care of itself, or stop mattering.
That’s the plan. I’m going to stop trying to bend the spoon, because there is no spoon.
That either makes me an awesome ninja or Uri Geller*. Time will tell, I guess.