Thursday, July 28, 2011

Running Shoes and Writing

As those of you who have followed my writing over the past 2 1/2 years know, I spent some time training for a half marathon, 5k and 10ks and the Cascade Lakes Relay (CLR). Hours on the road and in the gym - miles and miles in shoes.

Looking for the perfect ... no, I take that back ... looking for a good shoe for walking distances and speed. Remember "speed" is relative; I'm not a fast walker and never will be a really fast walker and I accept that. My best time was a 14.5 minute/mile; my average was 15.5 - 16. Which was good for me; trained down from a 21 minute/mile. At the CLR I did two or three legs, generally the late night legs plus the one 6.6 miles downhill on the highway in the middle of the day in the high desert leg. I needed good shoes.

I won't bore you with all of my trial and error with shoes - except to say there has been some. Some worked for a little while - then they didn't (Brooks) - actually causing more problems than they were helping, especially when the new version came our ("only the color was changed" - uh, no). So I went to an official sports running/walking store and was diagnosed and fitted. Went through three brands and four styles until found something that worked (New Balance, Saucony, other Brooks). For a while. Then it didn't. That store couldn't help me, didn't have my size in any that didn't hurt my feet.... and so on. Went to another store with newer, better, more fitting and diagnostic tools - and went through all of that. Found some shoes that worked really well - through 5k and 10k and training and the actual half marathon (Asics). Then more problems, time to switch shoes because that style started hurting more than helping (several styles of Asics).

Did I say I'd be short with the shoe journey? Sorry. Many shoes. Lots of money. Many miles. Changes in my feet, yes. And as some of you know what I've recently returned to is: the minimal shoe, even trying out a pair of Vibrams FiveFingers "barefoot" shoes.

But, Dot, what about the writing? How does this relate? I can hear some people saying. And here we go.

Just like the running shoes - many people have opinions on the best way, the most effective way, the fastest way - the right or wrong way - to write. To publish. To submit. To query. The whats and whys and hows - many views for doing the thing we do.

Like with the shoes, I think, find what fits.

Last year I went to the Willamette Writers Conference here in Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately I won't be able to go this year (it's next weekend) because I will be working; not that I'm complaining about having work - but I do have to miss the conference.

So - last year there were two editor-authors I went to in back to back sessions. They were both talking about some dos and don'ts of writing and editing and how to get published.

Guess what! Some of the expert advice they gave was in direct opposition to the other. They are both very successful and very well known and I respect and admire and like them both. And they were each telling their audience to do something exactly unlike what the other said.

I am not saying there aren't any rules in writing and getting published. I'm sure there are. But there is so much more to it than any one formula can do. There is very successful formulaic writing, I know - and if you have a formula which works for you - use it, yes, go! But I also don't think most people can just pick up another person's prescription for successful writing and have it go exactly the same way.

There are many readers and editors and publishers. You need to first find your writer voice. And then find the writer-editor-publishing people which fit your voice and can help you achieve your goals - and then go with your heart and your gut and the advice of those whom you trust.

Writing advice - like good shoes - must be tried for a good fit. And rechecked when something changes. With good shoes and a solid writing foundation, you can complete that marathon or novel or poetry chapbook. Patience and perseverence and listening to your own inner wisdom.

Keep on walking. Keep on writing.