The New York City Marathon was this past Sunday. My best friend lives in NYC and was a volunteer and let me just say, I don’t envy her at all working outside in the cold all morning! I couldn’t imagine running a marathon. Other than the fact I despise cold weather, I’m not a runner. I’ve tried, but I find just running immensely boring. I played softball, basketball and volleyball growing up, so it’s not like I never ran. My running just had a purpose.
A good friend of mine runs ultra marathons. The 100 mile sort. Yeah, I know, he’s crazy. Last week he ran from Gulf Shores, Alabama to the Tennessee line to raise money for tornado relief. That’s 376 miles! Around 50 miles per day, except for the last day which was shorter. He still hasn’t completely gotten the feeling back in his feet yet. (He raised a lot of money for Habitat for Humanity though. The website is still up at Alabama Relief Run for anyone who wants to donate.)
While thinking about how crazy these marathon runners are, I realized that I’m running my own sort of marathon. Writing isn’t a short jog to the mailbox or even a sprint up and down a basketball court. It’s an ultra marathon. When you write a book, you’re in for the long haul.
Like most people who sit down to write a novel, I didn’t realize at first what an intensive process it really is. You don’t just pound out a book, send it off to a publisher, and see it on shelves in a few months. There’s so much more to it than that; of course those of you who are also going through the publication quest already know this. You write, then re-write, then edit, then draft a query, then rework the query (countless times until you think you have it right), then find agents and submit, then wait, and wait. Sometimes you’ll get requests for partials or fulls, and then you wait some more. The lucky ones who get an offer of representation then go through more edits with their agent. More queries to editors, looking for publishers. More edits. Even after you get a publisher it takes a while for the book to actually come out. In the meantime you’re going through the process all over again with another book, and another, and another.
Like a marathon runner, you train and train for the race. Then you run and run and run and try to be at the front of the pack, and if you’re lucky, you win. Win or lose, however, the marathon doesn’t stop when the race is over. You take a deep breath, then train for the next one, and the next. I may think my runner friends are crazy, but am I any different? The odds of getting a book published, I would imagine, are like the odds of winning a marathon. But that doesn’t stop us from running.
I’m just starting my marathon, but I plan to run it for life. If the book I’m currently querying doesn’t get published, I’ll just write another. Better. If my query doesn’t work, I’ll re-write it. I’ll keep trying and who knows? Maybe one day I’ll win.