I usually like to start with a pretty picture, something eye-catching that will entice you to read on, so forgive me for using a grainy, out-of-focus snap of 3 sweaty people. There’s a reason these damp, hot folk grace your screen, because this photo has captured my Eureka! moment as it happened! (Can you hear all those pieces falling into place – pennies dropping?)
On Sunday I was number 10,894 of the 27,500 people pounding, or in my case shuffling, the streets of Cardiff. I had a ball. I loved it. I spent 2 hours, la-la-la minutes, with sore feet, needing the loo and laughing. I have a difficult relationship with running; I should find it exhilarating, exciting, energizing, I don’t. It’s difficult. I can’t breathe and it makes almost everything hurt. I do it because my love of sugar outweighs my aversion to pain. I’ve considered hypnotherapy – for the sugar addiction, but I love the stuff so much I don’t want to stop loving it, so I’m stuck with this running business.
Running makes me anxious (OK, OK, I hear you shouting: “Well don’t do it then!” but it’s not that easy). Start-lines are scary places, finish-lines the stuff of dreams – nightmares even, if you don’t cross them. What if you do cross it, but then you’re the last one? See what I mean? Daunting. The running panic is exactly the same as opening a new notebook with the intention of writing the next greatest-selling, prize-winning novel ever written by a human. Like a sub 2-hour half marathon, both unachievable by this writing-athlete (but just in case someone’s out there granting wishes, I’ll opt for the greatest selling novel, please thank you).
Back to the ‘Eureka- moment-ball’ I had on Sunday – running and fun – a new one on me. How on earth did it turn out to be such a laugh? I’ve crawled that distance before, same kit as before, same breakfast, weather, playlist and lucky pants but, the big difference – company. Running together with mates, not competing but sharing the experience, the atmosphere and the Haribo fried eggs.
Crossing the finish-line takes seconds, getting to it takes hours, so why make those hours painful? I tried the same approach to my weekly Parkrun – which is a brilliant way to start the weekend if (like me) you don’t turn it into a time-stress-fest. Last week I volunteered myself and running-phobic Small1 to be tail-walkers. We started knowing we’d be last and I watched my I-want-a-PB panic float off to the Land of Nonsense.
I’m now applying this zen-yen-it’s-the-taking-part-guff to my writing. Writing ‘The end’ is a quick and easy task, writing the beginning and middle might actually take a life-time if it’s worth doing. Some writers can produce novels annually, some of us can’t. And writing 4 million words might sound like an achievement, but it’s a wasted effort if they’re the wrong 4 million words, or they’re boring, confused, muddled, misspelt…
I’m off now to put my trainer on the start-line of a new notebook and I’m looking forward to the story I going to write there (eventually). I’ve added Fun Boy Three to my play list and I’ve memorized some of their lyrics:
It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it And that's what gets results
You can try hard (aah-ahh-ah) Don't mean a thing (aah-ahh-ah) Take it easy (aah-ahh-ah) And then your jive will swing (aah-ahh-ah)
(Warning: you’ll be humming that all day, it’s a total ear-worm (sorry).)
Parkrun happens all over Britain on a Saturday morning. It’s free, friendly and addictive. Visit wwwparkrun.org for more info.
I'm going to mention that C word, Christmas, oops sorry! But it is coming and if you need some inspiration for stocking fillers, could I make a cheeky recommendation....
The House With Old Furniture available to buy here