Category Archives: Writing

Caffeine Roundup.

Caffeine Roundup

RUNNING//

For Everyone Who Says They Cant.
Anne from FANNEtastic Foods did an amazing interview with Jeff Le who shares his incredible story of never giving up.

Why Taking a Break Isn’t the end.
We’ve all had to take time off and it can be really, really hard to get back in the game.  But it can be done.

Is Being Lean Really Worth It?
Not specifically running related, but it raises a really interesting question about lifestyle and what’s right for each of us.

WRITING//

Revising your writing again? Blame the Modernists
I’ve always thought that revision is where the magic of writing really happens, but I guess that hasn’t always been the case.

7 Things Dungeons & Dragons Taught Me About Storytelling
Another fun list about great story telling.

Comfort Writing and How To Avoid It
A great post about keeping your writing fresh.

READING//

Etsy: An Unlikely Source for Children’s Books
If you’re looking for fun children’s book, why not check out Etsy? Never would have thought of this!

The Legacy of Franz Kafka As Seen Through His Impact on Gabriel García Márquez
In honor of Franz Kafka’s birthday this past week.

Famous Books Inspired By Dreams
I found this list really interesting. I’ve definitely had some strange dreams, but I can’t imagine any of them becoming full-fledged stories.

FOODING//

Low-Fat Lemon Bars
I made these last night and they were fantastic! The ingredients a little confusing in some parts, but definitely worth it.

Fish in a Tin
Still not sold on sardines as an alternative to tuna? Then check out this post.

roasted cherry bourbon milkshakes with hot fudge.
I haven’t had a chance to make this yet, but it looks incredible. Definitely on my to-make list for this summer.

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Rest Days.

If you follow this blog at all, you know that I am very into both running and writing, and I am especially thrilled when the two overlap (See: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami). So when I found this quote on one of the writing blogs I follow, it really jumped out at me.

“There are days when I don’t write at all, but they are more like rest days.
There are days when I write a few thousand words and none of it goes into
the book, but those are like practice days, and they definitely happen to
everyone.” — Joanna Penn (in an interview with The Write Practice)

Just like running, you have to exercise your writing muscles. Back when I was working on my thesis for grad school I had no problem just sitting down and pounding out a few thousand words, but it was because I had been practicing for two years. And in the last year, as I’ve taken time to sort of detox from grad school, I’ve found myself having trouble even getting started. It’s sort of like how the hardest part of your run is the very first step (and the next few if you’ve taken some time off recently like I have…)

a professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit

You have good days and bad days in both running and writing. The key is getting yourself to start and then not letting yourself give up because of a bad day. Just take some time, rest, and start again tomorrow.

What does your writing/running schedule look like?

Do you plan your rest days? Or take them when you know you need them?


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Caffeine Roundup.

Caffeine Roundup

RUNNING//

Ridiculous New Shoe from Adidas: SpringBlade
So Adidas came out with some new shoes…with springs…what do you think? Gimmicky or the shoe of the future?

Running Laps Should Never Be a Punishment!
I remember hating the 10-minute warmup runs I had to do back when I played soccer. It wasn’t punishment, but I remember  any running that didn’t involve a soccer ball sure felt like. Younger me never would have considered doing distance running for fun.

The Running of the Interns
On the day of the Supreme Court decision to overturn DOMA (yay!), a new sporting event emerged!

WRITING//

The Decline and Fall of the English Major
I was an English major in college and I often sing its praises, but the English major has had an interesting progression over the past few years. The once traditional liberal arts major is now becoming few and far between.

Daily Routines of Famous Writers
I love lists like these. Simple, interesting, and inspiring!

Call for Submissions:The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
In case you had a story you were looking to submit.

READING//

The Lottery Letters
Shirley Jackson is one of my favorite authors and her story “The Lottery” has stayed with me since the first time I read it in high school. I was blown away by the story’s complexity and commentary on society. So I found this New Yorker article to be hilarious.

14 Books To Read Before They Hit The Big Screen
Hello new summer reading list!

ΦBK Summer Reading List
I’m a Phi Beta Kappa member, so I get their monthly newsletters. I thought I would share their brainy books reading list. Some interesting stuff!

FOODING//

Chocolate Cherry Espresso Smoothie
Anne from Fanntastic Foods put together the perfect combination of breakfast smoothie and morning coffee.

DIY Coffee Concentrate + Speedy Almond Milk Iced Coffee
As it continues to get hotter and hotter, my coffee is getting colder and colder. Here is a great recipe for DIY iced coffee with homemade almond milk!
(Door Sixteen had the same idea)

Honey Sunflower Bread
I absolutely love baking bread and this new loaf from Budget Bytes might be my next project.

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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki MurakamiHow it was possible for me to get this far in life without realizing there was a book out there that combined my two loves: running and writing, is beyond me. This book, of course, is What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

This book is only 180 pages. Short and poignant, it is a collection of short essays written by Murakami while training for yet another marathon. He describes his many experiences as a runner, including training, running races, and how all of it can be related to his writing.

To be honest, I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t run enjoying this book. A writer may pick up this memoir to glean some wisdom about writing–which there is some–but I don’t think there is enough to satisfy someone with no interest in physical fitness.

But for me, it was the perfect mix. I have always said I would never run a full marathon, but having just run a half marathon and  now, having just read this book, I am starting to think a full marathon might be a reality for me sometime in the future. This book was inspiring in so many ways. As soon as I finished, I laced up and ran the fastest, most enjoyable four miles I’ve run probably ever.

One might consider this book a bit self-indulgent, which is exactly what Murakami said he feared in his introduction. It felt like he was working through his own thoughts, never really drawing helpful conclusions so much as, raising questions about life. At times I found this a bit frustrating, like reading someone’s diary, but at other times, I found it really human, and I appreciated knowing that this amazingly accomplished writer and runner has the same fears and concerns that I have, and works through them with the same uncertainty as I do.

As a runner, I really appreciated the discussion of his training and race experiences. He describes a grueling experience running the original marathon race in Athens, and his seemingly unbearable trial of human strength running an ultra-marathon. The details he gives of the pain he felt, physical and mental, remind me of many of the thoughts and feelings I have experienced as well. (And also solidified my resolve to never run an ultra-marathon because it does not in any way, shape, or form, sound fun.)

Below, I have excerpted some of my favorite passages from the book:

“When I’m training for a race, I have to show my muscles who’s boss. I have to make it clear to them what’s expected.” Page 72.

“Even if there were two of me, I still couldn’t do all that has to be done. No matter what, though, I keep up my running. Running every day is kind of a lifeline to me, so I’m not going to lay off or quit just because I’m busy. If I used being busy as an excuse not to run, I’d never run again. I have only a few reasons to keep running, and a truckload of them to quit. All I can do is keep those few reasons nicely polished.” Page 73.

“What’s needed for a writer of fiction — at least one who hopes to write a novel — is the energy to focus every day for half a year, or a year, two years. You can compare it to breathing. If concentration if the process of just holding your breath, endurance is the art of slowly, quietly breathing at the same time you’re storing air in your lungs…Continue to breathe while you hold your breath.” Page 78.

“Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life–and for me, for writing as well.” Page 83.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I appreciated it both for the wisdom is imparted, and  for inspiration of a shared human experience. It made me feel like I could pour my love into both writing and running, and that I didn’t have to choose one or the other to place my focus. Most of all, it made me feel like things I have been unable to even comprehend attempting are possible and achievable.

I’ll no doubt come back to this book for a pick-me-up every so often. It only took me a few hours to read, and it provided just the push I needed to get myself off the couch, out the door, and back putting one foot in front of the other.

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I’m Finished.

NaNoWriMo 2012 WInner

that is all.

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When My NaNoWriMo 2012 Took a Detour

So sometime around twenty give to thirty thousand words, something happened to me. I was writing the story I had planned to write, but I was bored. I hated the story, the characters, everything, and even though I was about halfway done, I just didn’t have enough passion for the story to keep going. And I thought, why do I have to keep doing this? Why do I have to keep writing a story I know will never be worked on or seen again after December 1st?

Then I realized, nothing was tying me to that story, and while my characters were interesting in some ways, I knew they didn’t fit and could be used elsewhere.

And that’s when things started to get weird. My writing took a detour.

I started adding characters from different times and places. I broke all the rules I had established for my world. And I completely changed the focus of my story, instead working toward a daily writing habit rather than a cohesive (or coherent) story.

And as you might have guessed, this is not an easy thing to sustain. It was, in fact, harder to write whatever came to mind. Being limitless in what could happen was too much freedom within the confines of the page. I needed structure and didn’t have any.

Which is when things changed again.

Once it became about word count, it was no longer about a story and I had nothing to make me want to show up and write. There was no next scene coming up I was excited to write because I had no idea what would happen next. While this can be great if you’re in one story moving toward a goal but a little stuck, it just isn’t something that can sustain a writing habit – and once again, my motivation waned.

But still I push on (and am very close to the end!)

However, there are positives here. What pleases me the most is how when I sit down to knock out the word count for the day, I feel really positive. There is less pressure to push forward, only to show up, and I now feel as though I can show up and write each day. My main goal during this month was to cultivate a daily writing habit. While there were times when I worried I was making myself resent writing, rather than enjoy it, the good feelings when I show up to the screen tells me otherwise.

One difference however, after this month is over, is that I will definitely be writing more by hand. I’m sick of writing on the computer. It’s easier for word count, but it just sucks the creativity out of me. I feel like I’m writing a school paper rather than a creative story, and I admit I am just the worst when it comes to getting distracted.

I just need to make sure I finish the stories rather than leave them hanging and don’t misplace all of my notebooks like I did all though college. And one of these days, I need to go back and edit my college work and start submitting stories to literary magazines. I think I have maybe one or two that could work, and I’m finally beginning to understand what a short story should be. Somehow the concept eluded me in college, but now, after some time spent living and reading on my own, it makes a lot more sense.

With only one week left of NaNoWriMo 2012, I want to wish everyone a burst of energy and luck! Stick with it, only about two thousand words left for me, and whether you’re way ahead or way behind, as long as you keep showing up you are a winner in your own right.

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This pleases me

 

And now back to writing.

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