Saturday, October 08, 2011

Runners and Writers

Runners are mad. I spent most of my adult life believing this. People step out of their houses. They run. And then they stop.


My wife started running when I was 36. She pulled me into the sport and I discovered that my assessment was correct—runners are mad. But it's a wonderful kind of madness.

Runners run in the dark. In the rain. In the snow. They run until common sense and every muscle screams at them to stop. And then they run some more. They run barefoot. They run up mountains. They race ten miles when the only things waiting for them at the end are sweaty clothes and some chocolate milk.

Writers are also mad. They write deep into the night. On short lunch breaks. They jot down notes on the bus. They talk to themselves. They endure endless amounts of criticism and rejection. They write for years when the only thing waiting for them at the end are a million words—most of them unread by the world.


I ran the Top of Utah Half Marathon last year. I trained all summer. I paid $100 for shoes, and another $50 for the privilege of entering the race. At the end of the 13 miles I got a key chain. I didn't care. I wasn't running for the prize at the end.

I've spent four years on a manuscript. I don't know where it's going to end up. I might get a contract. I might get nothing. But I didn't write it for the prize at the end.

Runners are mad. Writers are mad. But it's a delicious madness.

I love a good midnight run. Or a thorough sloshing through the rain. I will never forget a midnight run through the streets of Logan during a thunderstorm. These events remind me that I am alive. They remind me of what I can do.

I love when my characters surprise me. When the words flow, and I feel like I'm creating another world. When somebody reads a line that I wrote, and bursts into laughter. I will never forget the time a stranger approached me and told me of the time he had to pull his car to the side of the road because he couldn't see through the tears of laughter as he listened to my book.

Runners are mad. Writers are mad.

And that is why I run. And that is why I write.