Friday, 12 June 2009

Marathon Comparison - John Dougherty

Having, in the last six weeks, finished both a run of 26.2 miles and a story of 81,856 words, it occurred to me that there are a number of similarities between the two. They include:
  • the need for preparation. You can’t start a marathon run without having loaded your body up with carbohydrates, trained it properly, and generally prepared it for the long slog to come. Similarly, you can’t just write the first words of the first sentence of your story and expect everything to flow smoothly from there; you’ve got to prepare your imagination - whether with a detailed paper plan or just a lot of daydreaming depends on the individual; but the point is that you have to get your mind ready for the long grind ahead, with some idea of where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Otherwise you may find yourself hitting the wall, and unable to carry on
  • the will to finish. At various points along the route, you’re likely to become aware of a little voice in the back of your head that whispers, “No-one would blame you if you just gave up now...” This must be fought at all costs!
  • the potential for disappointment. No matter how well-prepared you are, no matter how determined, now matter how inspired and ready you are at the start, you can’t do a personal best every time
  • the sense of sheer exhaustion once you get to the end. Actually, this one came as a bit of a surprise for me, at least as far as the story was concerned; in its present form, Bansi O’Hara and the Edges of Hallowe’en is by far the longest thing I’ve ever written, and I just wasn’t expecting the wave of tiredness that hit me as I left the wordshed, having composed the final paragraph, hit ‘save’, and closed the file.
But of course there are a number of differences as well, not least that after the London Marathon no-one’s going to review your performance and say, “Actually, I wasn’t entirely convinced by the way you got from mile 12 to mile 15. Could you go back and do that bit again, but perhaps going via Hammersmith?”

2 comments:

Elen Caldecott said...

Congratulations on finishing both!!!

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

80,000 words and 26 miles... that's REAL IRON MAN stuff! Well done, John, on both!I can see the similarities. Now I know why I can hardly manage a 40 000 word novel and have only ever run 10 KM (6 miles?)