by Philip (Norval Joe) Carroll

I ran Saturday morning and I experienced the disappointment I often feel when running at that time of day. I was supposed to do ten miles and found I could barely do the 4.2 I have been running every evening.
It was 75 degrees, cooler than the 85 to 90 I run through in the evening. Maybe I felt hotter because of the direct sunlight. I fatigued quickly and had to stop and walk at the three mile mark. I haven’t stopped to walk during a workout in over a year. My time was close to how I run in the evening, but I was completely at the end of my strength as I stumbled up the driveway to get my Gatorade.
“What’s the problem?” You might ask, “why not just run in the evening?”
The problem is marathons are all run in the morning. And I’m signed up to run one in Utah on October 1st.
As I pondered this frustration over the weekend, I got notice that my writer’s meetup group would be gathering this week, and to have my writing sent in early enough for others to read and critique it.
More frustration.
I like my meetup group. They’re cool people, very talented, and we spend a fun evening together. It seems that each of us have a pet peeve that we notice in our writing. There is a special distaste for the word ‘that’. If you use it without proper justification, licence and permits, you get dinged. I don’t use it much in my writing anymore. Another one is using “began to” or “continued to” because it limits the event to a certain action at a specific time. I agree. Using ‘did something’ is stronger.
Here’s a tangent on a pet peeve of my own. I’m listening to ‘Catching Fire’ which is the second book after, ‘The Hunger Games’, by Suzanne Collins. It’s written in the first person, (which I don’t like), present, (which I hate) and the woman who narrates it makes a special emphasis on the “I say”, “he says” that take me right out of the story. But what is worse, are the “I begin”, “he begins”, and “I continue”, that she seems to use on almost every page.
But, as I say when I hear complaints about J.K. Rowling and the sparkly vampire lady, she’s found a market and knows how to play to them, and has made a mint doing it. (Good for her.)
End of tangent.
I miss writing. As I scanned through all the stories I wrote for the Great Hites podcast, looking for something to send in to the group, I reminisced about the days when I could sit down for an hour a night and put a short story together. (I feel a self-pity-wallow coming up here….I’ll control myself.) I’m sure that writers should be used to disappointment; rejection letters, indifferent agents, the impenetrable hedge of self publishing.
I hear my wife tell me, “Pull up your socks and get on with it. You have to decide between running, writing, sleep, or playing Eve online.”
Grrrrr. I hate having to choose between the things I have to do and those I want to do.
I found a story to send to the meetup group. As I looked it over, I thought of how I would like to make it into a story longer than the original 1800 words. Now, how am I going to fit that in?
(Two days later)
I ran again last night. I’m pushing my daily runs up to five miles this week, and hopefully to six next week–more time away from other things, like writing. I thought I would ponder plot elements for the short story I submitted to the writers group. I had a wonderful run, faster than the night before, and was totally absorbed in developing my story. I can’t wait to start writing down the points I pondered. I’ll get to that…when?
Is there a point to my random rant today? In the words of the Dread Pirate Roberts, “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.” (Or words to that effect.)
Feel free to be disappointed, but don’t be discouraged.
Being disappointed shows you recognize your writing’s weaknesses. A weakness recognized is actually a strength. However, when you are dis-couraged, you have lost courage, or your drive, or your vision. When you lose these things, failure appears to be an acceptable option.
Your writing is good. But if you need to, you can make it better.
There is a market for work, you just need to find it.
So, pay the rent, eat a balance diet, and exercise.
And then write.

Philip ‘Norvaljoe’ Carroll is a staff editor at Flying Island Press, and a developing writer of short, and not so short, fiction. Look for his first effort as a lead editor when the Autism Acceptance Issue is released in a few weeks.

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