Friday, September 10, 2010

Taking The Steps

It takes a lifetime to grow. People haven't the patience any more.

Lawrence Durrell
Anyone who has ever run a marathon knows that there is no other athletic event like it. It rquires strength, stamina, endurance and comfortable shoes. A marathon race is precisely 26 miles, 385 yards. To vigorously put one foot in front of the other for that distance without stopping is a formidable task.

At the New York City Marathon the finishers are given a light, plastic silver colored robe to wear. After the race one can see people wearing the robe around town. When you see someone with one of them you say "How did you do?" And the answer will be "7 hours, 29 minutes." "4 hours, 17 minutes." "3 hours, 36 minutes." And so on. You hardly ever see the front runners, the 2+ hours people, because they are scooped up and taken to celebration parties. It takes great skill to win a marathon race or to even come in close to the winner.

Yesterday I read an article which said that writing is like a marathon. It also takes strength, stamina, endurance and skill. There is one big difference however. The marathon runner doesn't take a break. He doesn't make another cup of coffee, answer the phone or go down for the mail. A writer has a powerful advantage that he is able to stop what he's doing and think about it.

There are some similarities to both activities. At the start of the race the runner may wish to be at the finish line and all his energies are focused on that. The starting gun of an idea may provoke the writer to begin and wish the novel or essay was finished. On the other hand when the runner crosses the finish line he knows the race is over. The writer is never quite sure. Nobody is going to ask the writer "How did you do?" And even if they did the answer is not going to be "5 hours, 47 minutes."

There are two qualities they both absolutely have in common: faith and patience. The runner has to call on reserves of strength and energy he doesn't feel he has, to trust that those reserves are there and to keep running until they appear. And when the writer gets stuck and can't seem to proceed he must ask himself what the words and phrases, the ideas are that he needs and then wait patiently for them to occur to him.

I, like most writers, will enter a word knowing it's the wrong word, just to keep writing, to keep running, knowing that the right word will occur to me eventually. And it does. Sometimes after I think I've finished the piece I get a sudden knock on my mind and there's the word I want.

And just as a marathon is not an aimless run of 26 miles with no direction but a clearly defined path from beginning to end, so writing is a precise art form where every sentence and every paragraph should be a precise equation of thoughts and ideas. (So mine aren't always, I admit it. But I'm getting better.)

Another great, silent harvest of running a marathon or writing a novel is that when doing it you learn a whole lot about yourself that you didn't know. a growing of yourself, a self discovery. And that is a grand, life changing thing.

Dana Bate
The Vagabond


Here we go.

A man is walking down the street and comes upon a store that sells coconuts. He goes in and buys half the coconuts in the store plus half a coconut. When he gets home his wife shakes her head and wonders what she's going to do with all those coconuts.

He gets an idea and goes out and buys a bottle of rum. But on the way he passes the same store with the coconuts, goes in and buys half the coconuts in the store plus half a coconut. When he gets home his wife has opened one of the coconuts and is ready to make a nice cocktail with the juice.

The man is so delighted that he goes out again and buys half the coconuts in the store plus half a coconut. Upon returning home he finds his wife has made them some delicious rum and coconut cocktails.

He drinks one which inspires him to go to the store again and buy half the coconuts in the store plus half a coconut. When he leaves the store that time there are no coconuts left. No one else bought any coconuts. They're all kiwi or papaya freaks or something. Who knows.

Back home he and his wife have a very pleasant evening drinking their rum and coconut cocktails.

"Yoo poot thee rum in thee coconautt and than yoo dahnce cahleepso.

Questions: How many coconuts were there in the store when he went in the first time?

Goog lub.


Sue said...

Ok now I have two songs that are relentlesly playing in my brain.
Try to Remember and Put the Lime in the Coconut.

Thanks so much,


krissy knox said...

i don't know, i could figure it out, but i don't really care. i just know i have some stuff to make pina coladas here, w/o the rum, but i do have some rum extract so i will use that. i would think doing a math problem was very exciting a fun, and would do yours, but right now i just want to drink a pina colada, LOL.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I think I am more likely to run a marathon than write a novel :o)