I crossed two finish lines this week, though neither meant the end of anything. The first was at the four mile marker of the Denver Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. I didn’t win any prizes, coming in 4428 out of about 10,000 racers. Undaunted, I will keep running because I’m not done competing against myself and striving to pick up my pace.

I dashed over the other finish line this morning: 30,000 words in 30 days, doing exactly what I’d set out to do on November 1, with an extra 396 words to boot (and when I get to the editing phase, they may indeed be booted). Daunted but determined, I will keep writing because the story is not done and I must keep striving to reach The End.

Running full circle

The interesting thing about doing the run this week was that it brought me back to the exact place that sparked the novel idea. About a year and a half ago while walking in the park, a particular object caught my fancy and I began wondering aloud about the story behind it. My walking partner suggested that before I research the answer, I create my own. In the months that followed, we both etched ideas into a shared folder in Evernote. I feebly started the story a few times, even entering the first page of one draft into a writing contest in July. It didn’t even earn an honorable mention. I lost gumption.

And then in early October, the fall issue of Writer’s Digest arrived with big, bold words emblazoned on its cover: “Write a Book in a MONTH!” Honestly, it made me mad at first. I refused to open the magazine. Who has time to write that much?

30 in 30 is possible

But then a funny thing happened on the way to my coffee pot. Early one morning, before I poured my first cup of java, a tiny voice reminded me that I had accomplished running 30 miles in 30 days in September. It hadn’t been without its setbacks, but in the end, I’d jogged every meter of those miles and it felt good.

I became determined to at least try to take part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November too. It wasn’t without its setbacks either. In the beginning, I fell behind a few days and then also discovered the official NaNoWriMo goal is 50,000 words in a month and I’d only committed to 30,000. I could have quit then, but decided I’d do the NaNoLite version (created by and for me) and stick to my goal and thus, not throw in the towel. Midway through, I wished I’d thrown in the towel. I mean, who has time to write this much? I found out that I did. But was it any good? Two days ago I read over the first ten pages and cried because I realized my story line had gotten tangled-up like a string of poorly wound Christmas lights with one broken bulb that shuts the whole thing down.

My inner editor shook a crooked finger and shrieked, “Fix it now!” My walking partner gave me a hug and said, “Fix it later. Tell your story and don’t let anyone stop the process, especially you. Smother the naysayer and keep going.” And so I killed off my inner editor. Murder one in the necessary degree.

Trot and tell

The Turkey Trot took me back to my inanimate object of inspiration. Just after the three mile marker, I passed it on my right. I thought about stopping to snap a photo, though by then I had a pretty good pace going into the final mile, so I took a picture in my mind and kept right on going. My memory cam captured it well because it’s as clear to me now as then. If only the ending of my story could be in such sharp focus. Harold and Claire are sitting down to lunch with Abigail who is worried that the homemade bread might be poisoned. What will she do? It’s up to me to tell.

I’ve given myself a finish line of December 15 to untangle the conflict and reach a surprise ending.

Here I go.