Give me a moment. I’m living

By: Philip (Norval Joe) Carroll

I ran a pseudo half marathon last Saturday night. It was supposed to be 13.1 miles, but due to an unfortunate error, they had us only run 12.2. That’s ok with me. It was all in good fun.

I was talking with some people the next day and one of them said they don’t like running. Really, when you put it that way, I don’t like running either. I like having run, being a runner. I like the results of running. I have more energy during the day, more endurance for doing other activities, and I can each a choco taco every night without gaining any weight.

I was speaking with a friend a week ago regarding stress and such. I’m under a bit of it right now. I’m not complaining, right now. I do that enough at other times. I’m just saying that from the time I get up to the time I go to bed I have something to do. Too often, by my mind, I don’t do what I should, and divert to a computer game or something more entertaining.

But on the subject of stress my friend said that it is good to have periods of diversion. And when I am diverted away from stress, I should allow myself to be totally absorbed in the moment. Not thinking about what I should be doing, could be doing or what I need to do when I’m finished with what I am currently doing.

At about mile number 8 on Saturday night, I didn’t want to be in the moment, but rather, doing what I would be doing when I was done running. It was funny, as we were driving home I commented to my adult daughter who had run the 5K race, the race we had so recently just run, less than a half hour before, now seemed like a dream. From the start, through every footstep I remember taking, to crossing the finish line, it all seemed surreal.

I was sitting in my car, drinking gatorade, comfortable with the race behind me, and that was all that seemed real. If I wasn’t so sweaty, the race could have been completely in my imagination.

I much prefer to be in the moment when I’m writing. I’ve said before that I am an organic writer and much of my plot elements are unplanned and are discovered as I am writing. I love diving into a new story with new characters to meet, the relationships they’ll develop, and the problems they’ll have. I get a lot of satisfaction from visiting the worlds my characters inhabit whether it’s only two dimensions to the side of where I currently sit, or clear back on my paper route during the mid seventies.

Yet, even then, I’m impatient to learn where the tale will wind up, if my hero is a hero after all, or if he’s a hindrance to the heroine, or joins the dark side altogether. It’s hard to live in the moment when the mind runs faster than the fingers and the ideas get traffic jammed on the way out of the brain. There comes that stress again, trying to get all the ideas down on paper before they’re forgotten. I don’t know about you, but some of those great ideas that are so perfect they smack you on the side of the head, never make it to paper for me. I forget them before I can write them down. Must be a combination ADD, sleep deprivation and sniffing glue for the last 25 years. (I’m an orthotist. We use some pretty powerful glues and I’m sure I’ve lost my share of brain cells from working with the stuff for as long as I have.)
After two years of writing my novel, podcasting the first 20,000 words of it, rewriting and editing twice, at times Chad, Amy and Amanda seem more real to me than the “almost half marathon” I ran just a few days ago. I think that’s a good thing. I know them pretty well. I know how they feel. I fell Chad’s embarrassments and his frustrations, as well has his dedication to his friends.

So what am I saying?

Get lost in the moment when writing. Enjoy it, where you are and where your characters are. Don’t rush. Take the time to show what’s happening, who’s talking, which army is losing. There will be plenty of opportunities in the edits to worry about pacing.

Philip E. Carroll is a certified orthotist and staff editor for Flying Island Press. He primarily writes preteen fiction, mainly urban fantasy, though he likes to venture out into straight science fiction, fantasy and horror. Not a surprise that the main characters are usually between eleven and eighteen years of age (the most adventurous period of his own life).

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