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Progress and discovery May 12, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Exercise, Writing.
Monday I reached a running milestone, and it was unintentional. When I started running again in March, I followed the Cool Running “Couch to 5K” program that has a final goal of running 30 minutes. By week five or six, I wasn’t sticking to the plan and increasing running times and distances on my own. On Monday, my intention was to run for 25 minutes straight with no walking.
Since it was rainy, I headed to the Y instead of the riverfront. And it’s been a while since I’ve run indoors. Going around and around that padded blue track Monday was quite the change from the beginning of March – definitely an improvement. Two months ago, most of my thoughts were “How much longer until I can walk some laps?” Monday, those thoughts never entered my mind. I kept going and going, tuning out the distractions of the bouncing basketballs and teenage voices from the gym below and instead focusing on the music from Glee playing through my iPod. Racing through my mind were writing ideas, especially on the new novel I’m planning.
Since I decided to shelve “Summer of ‘94” back in March, I’d been trying to figure out what to pursue next. I’d had an idea for completely redoing the novel I wrote last November for National Novel Writing Month, which I thought through on several runs and began working on in bits and pieces. The story, though, never really took off for me. It was based, to a degree, on a real-life local incident involving a guy I know (how’s that for vague?) and the more I thought and worked on it, the more unseemly it felt.
I’ve been happy with the amount of writing I’m doing – my whole point in creating this blog was to write regularly, although at the time I didn’t know I’d soon be contributing to a Cardinals blog twice a week too. (Check it out here if you haven’t. It’s been a lot of fun!) Yet I still want something else to work on, because my real writing goal is novelist.
As often happens, my friend Linda made a comment that sparked an idea. After reading my story of converting to Cardinals fandom on the Diamond Diaries blog, she said “THAT is the essence of what I wanted to get from ‘Summer of ’94.’” When I asked what she meant by “that,” she said it was “the feeling, the passion, energy, intensity, the almost ‘couldn’t help it’ compulsion, the pure love of the game.” OK, so a new fiction project obviously must include baseball. (Of course.)
One day last week while running, some great ideas came to mind. I couldn’t wait to get back to my car and scribble them all down. And on Monday too, I spent the majority of my workout letting my mind wander about this new story and more ideas. Not any worth sharing yet, other than it’s about a woman named Maggie who’s a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan (of course!) and the baseball season where she turns 40. Some of it will be funny, some it more serious. (Like life. And baseball.) It might take place in 2006, just because it would be fun to write about experiencing that year’s playoffs.
With so many thoughts on Monday, the running time passed quickly. I still played mind games with myself – not checking my watch until a song ended, for example – and was very surprised to see I’d been running for more than 26 minutes. Since I was already past my goal for that day, might as well set a new one: 30 minutes. The pinnacle of the “Couch to 5K” program, without any pre-run motivation. I was definitely tired, but concentrating on “Like a Prayer” helped. (I even wanted to clap along when the choir was singing, yet restrained the impulse.) When I needed more inspiration, I again thought of a Cardinal to get me through – only this time it was Trever Miller and his advice on runners needing to push themselves. (Sorry, CC.) And it worked. Looking down and seeing 30:00 on my watch was a fantastic feeling.
While walking several laps and listening to “Don’t Stop Believing” (while also realizing even this version of the song reminds me of the 2005 White Sox), more thoughts on the new story came to mind. Once again, in my car, I jotted them down quickly. Yesterday and this morning I’ve been looking back at other stories I started but never finished, since one in particular focused on baseball. But I’m not looking for inspiration. Just to see what I did before because I don’t want this new story to be anything like what I’ve written previously.
With plenty more running time coming up in the next few months, I’ll have much time to continue discovering this new novel.


1. linda - May 12, 2010

Congrats! I think you’ve passed that proverbial wall somewhere. Both in the writing and the running program realms. And, as always, I’m impressed by your “never give up” (or is that “never give in”) attitude!

2. Joni B. - May 17, 2010

Chris — nice job, my friend!! Proud ‘o you! On many fronts… sticking with running is tough but gets easier, which you’ve locked onto, so that’s way cool. And this whole writing thing?? Love it when inspiration strikes and I totally agree with Linda — MUST include baseball!!! That’s being “true to you” and it is something that will spark your passion writing and your characters too.

Okay… now a question: what’s keeping you from not assigning a real date to something? i.e. what’s keeping you from writing something that could just as easily take place three years from now as from four years ago? Just curious… In “the future”, you get to make up a whole new set of ballplayers, you could redesign their uniforms, or whatever. Could be fun to wing it like that and you could still draw upon the emotion of the past without having to be tied to the facts of the past.

In any case, WRITE ON!!!

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