Monday, March 16, 2015

Miles on a page

Rachael Yamagata -- my musical crush, who should be your musical crush if she's not already -- has a song called "Miles on a Car." It's a romantic number (like most of her stuff, minus the soul crushing, heartbreaking stuff, which is still just delectable and beautiful) that essentially makes the argument: I'll go to where you are, because ultimately it's just miles on a car in order to get there. In the grand scheme of things, who cares? I just want to be where you are.

Similarly, I find it strange when members of my family select to rent cars when they go on road trips, so as not to put miles on the cars they own. My thought is: then why do you own the car? It's meant to have miles put on it. So put some miles on it.

Not that I'm judging.

So anyway. The song. I love it. Not as much as "You Won't Let Me," but still. I enjoy it.

In fact I may need to listen to it right now.

Pardon me.

Also I saw the lovely Rachael last weekend at the beautiful Fonda Theater and got really close to the stage!!

So my point (you're probably wondering) in bringing up the song is that, as of late, I've been pounding out two types of miles, and I'm thinking of them as parallels. Which is not the most artistic way for me to say my point here, just blurting it out here at the top of my essay, but whatever.

What kind of miles, you ask?

Running -- OK, fine, "running" -- miles and writing miles.

I'm slogging through. I'm out of shape in both regards, but I'm getting 'er did, as my father would say.

As you'll recall, I had a conversation a little while back with a writer friend, who reminded me what I already knew and that is that I can't avoid the actual work of getting my book written. I have to sit down and get the words on the page.

Anne Lamott says to keep your "butt in chair." Ann Patchett (in her book "This is the Story of a Happy Marriage," which I'm reading and loving right now) says to sit in your chair, even if you're not actively writing. Don't check your email, don't be on the phone. Just sit there. Eventually, she says, you'll either give in and start writing, or you'll give up and then you'll know just how serious you are -- or aren't -- about this writing business.

Yesterday I had an unplanned marathon day. My boy became busy at the last minute, with something to help him potentially advance his dreams and career, so I pretended I was single for the day. Not in a "Woohoo! Let's make out with other people!" way, but in a "Let's do all the things I used to do before I started dating this precious person" way.

I did everything under the sun. I called my dad, who laughed because I had already called him and was clearly bored, and he suggested I call my grandmother.

"Did it," I replied. "Dad, I've done everything."

I did laundry, dishes, read, wrote, cross stitched, called family, cleaned my apartment, worked out (but neglected the stretching component, and my leggies are letting me know it today).

There were two things I avoided, but eventually did: read the Bible, and write.

And when I wrote, I didn't do a blog post, or work on another essay for a contest -- though those things are worthwhile -- but rather sat down and worked on the book. I like that we're calling it that: the book. I called my dad and told him I wrote (because he's my main cheerleader) and he asked what I worked on and I said I worked on "the book."

It's declarative. Strong. Puts it in stone, makes it real.

Grrrrrr. (That was my writing roar).

I hammered out about 1,800 words. I worked for an hour. I took Ms. Patchett's advice, and made myself sit there, no email, no Facebook. I took sips of my Mic Ultra when I got bored. Blew on my sweaty hands to evaporate the tiny droplets on my palms. Ate a cracker-cookie thing.

And then I would get back to it.

And then I would sip, crunch, blow.

And then type.

Guys, it was boring.

I'm telling a story I haven't looked at in a long time, and one that I've trained myself to gloss over. I'm used to telling the motto, the message, the what-I've-learned and very-quickly-how-I-got-here.

Right now I'm typing out details of my high school/college years. It's been a long time, so conjuring up details is difficult. Difficult to remember, difficult to put into words what I was feeling, and difficult to re-feel what I felt at the time.

I told myself and thanked God yesterday as I was typing that it's all over. That those days are in the past. I still have to write them out, but I'm grateful they're over.

But I still have to WRITE THEM OUT.

It's boring. It's hard.

But like I'm telling myself with my running these days, it's a means to an end. I'm training for a half marathon, and I'm way out of shape, and not fully up to running speed yet, but I'm making myself mark the miles.

I pathetically switch from elliptical to treadmill, just to keep it fresh, then back to elliptical, in order to cover a measly 3 miles.

But I'm doing it. And eventually I'll suddenly hit running speed and I'll be able to build up the miles and then it will be race day.

The writing pace will probably stay a little more consistent. Slog pace.

But I've gotta do it.

So I'm happy I've got running miles and writing miles aligned in my life right now. Each is a cheerleader, an encourager, a role model, for the other.

I'm putting miles on a car. My aim is not quite as romantic as Ms. Yamagata's, but it's the same -- sort of -- idea. And she offers a great soundtrack while I hammer out the pages.

(The Disney Channel offers my treadmill soundtrack, as I am not equipped with a fancy iPod; but my birthday is coming up, Y'all).

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