Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Well, here's team Firefly on the day of the big Danskin triathalon. That's Emily on the left (she was the team swimmer, who started the whole thing), Lisa (the bicyclist) in the middle, and yours truly, the runner, on the right.
How many of you have been to your local Danskin triathalon? I had never been to Seattle's before, and I'm thrilled to be able to tell you all about it. First of all, like a lot of triathalons, the Danskin is a charitable endeavor. All of our entry fees on Sunday helped out our local foodbank and--one of my favorites--Susan G. Komen. The money raising is fabulous and makes it all that much easier to donate one's time. I have to tell you, though, it may have been the connection to Susan G. Komen that got me to run, but once I got there, it was about something unexpected. Girl Power.
I can hardly find the words to describe how moving and powerful this event was. There were five thousand women competing in the triathalon--which was a half mile swim in open water, a twelve mile bike ride, and a 5k run. Some, like us, divided the work and formed a team, and some brave souls did it all by themselves.
Here's what was so amazing and moving. During my run, there were always women in front of me. (No jokes about it being a reflection of my speed). We all started at different times---whenever the bike ride was done, the runner started--so it wasn't really a head on competition with any other woman. It was really a personal thing. You against the clock, the weather, the fear, the hope, everything. All along the route, there were people cheering you on, clapping, telling you to keep trying. Anyway, the point I was going to make was about the women in front of me. Time and time again I found myself looking at the back of a pink t-shirt that read: The miracle is not that I finished...the miracle is that I began.
I kept staring at those words, all day. I saw the t-shirt on young women, old women...women wearing large sized t-shirts and ones so tiny I couldn't have worn them at twelve. We "triathletes" came in all sizes and shapes, all levels of fitness, all ages. There was even a blind woman running the course with me, using her cane. What we had in common was that we were all women, sharing this special day together, doing something that we believed in. We were probably all afraid that we weren't going to finish or that we were going to embarrass ourselves or let our teammates down, but we did it anyway. It was so amazingly empowering. I was so proud to be there, even if I wasn't doing the "whole" thing and even though my time was hard competitive (I came in at #1600). The point was, ultimately, exactly as the t-shirt said: I began, therefore I won.
It's an important life lesson, that's for sure. The miracle is not that we finish something that scares us; the point is that we begin it. So that's my little soapbox for the day. It's never too late to try something new, to reach out and embrace a challenge.
And speaking of challenges, I am thrilled to tell you all that on Friday, I started the book for 2012. I wrote five pages. That probably doesn't sound like much, and in the great scheme of things, it certainly isn't. Over the course of writing and re-writing a novel, I usually rack up at least 1500 pages. I write, delete, edit, prune, re-do, move around. There is endless putting together of words. And five pages is a drop in the bucket.
Except for the first five pages. Those are a triumph somehow. I don't know if other authors feel like I do, but every time I set out to start a new novel, I wonder if I will be able to do it again, if in some way I have been lucky before, divinely gifted, and now the real world will settle heavily down on my shoulders and trap me. I wonder if I have the ability to tell the story that's in my head...or worse yet, I discover that there is no story in my head. I panic and flail and pray for inspiration, and when it comes, it is slow and unsteady and uncertain. I research and write synopses and pray some more. I obsess and bother my girlfriends, pitching endless story ideas, until one by one they throw up their hands and say "I give up."
And then, one day, it is just there. The seedling. I nurture it and baby it and draw it out of the dark ground until finally I can see the whole thing. But even so, it is scary to begin. I pace and avoid and do laundry and run. Then I remember that my deadline is approaching and I throw in the towel. I get out my yellow legal pad, my favorite pen, and I write the first sentence. By the end of the first page, I am myself again. Words are an extension of my soul, and as they flow, I find myself smiling; happy, hopeful. I realize that I CAN do it again. At least this once.
That's worth a mai tai on the beach, don't you think?
Now, I have a question for you guys. I have been wondering how many of you are also on facebook. It's obviously a lot less personal than the blog, but it's also a lot more interactive. So which is it, ladies? What is your favorite way to stay in touch with your favorite authors?
Well, that's it for me today. But I will tell you all to check back to the blog--or facebook--in the next few days, because I'm going to post the cover of my new book. But just for you, here's a sneak peek: the title is NIGHT ROAD. What do you think?