Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why I Write About Runners

            I've written 3 novels. “Stray” is about drug addiction, and the other 2 feature runners. I am going to end this streak soon, but there's something about running that I always hope to capture. Running is very much an inner adventure that takes you to the dark corners of the mind, and I often feel the urge to turn the insides out and scream out loud what comes forth.  Despite the notion that Runners are the dorks of the world, running really brings out some edgy shit. It makes you sweat and bleed all over the world, and sometimes, the sweat and blood ends up on the page.

            During every run I take a do a little writing in my head. About forty-five minutes in to any run my writing mojo is released. My ideas become more grand, and heated blood lubricates my insides such that  loose associations flow through my veins. My characters have conversations, my plots turn incredible and I am master of the universe.  ROAR!!!

            Of course, some of this writing sucks.  I return home and the reality of putting this on paper hits and it doesn’t always seem as great as it did during the drunkeness of the running moment.
            In The Jade Rabbit, I hoped to capture how the intensity of your life often mirrors the intensity of marathon training, and that the finish line is much more than the end of a run. It’s a huge collision of all your life coming together. 
            When we are in the zone of our training, life becomes training and training becomes life. Battles fought in personal life are reflected in runs, and vice versa, so you can’t talk about running without talking about life.  Running is the background music to live by, and the volume slowly gets ramped up the closer the race day.  We bring our lifelong baggage with us every time we head out the door, and hopefully return a little lighter or at least stronger to carry the load.

            As an adoptive father, I also am first hand witness to a child growing up with questions. One of them is the primal wound of simply not being able to look into the eyes of her birth mother. This is something running can’t solve, but can help us cope with. As it is, I still cry every time I read the end of The Jade Rabbit.

             And if my novel The Jade Rabbit was 75% about running, my latest novel, On the Lips of Children, is 25% about running, but both deal with the changes that happen from pushing oneself, and how the training bleeds into all areas of your life. Running is just a metaphor for reaching for wholeness, love, connection, certainly much more than just time goals.  The Jade Rabbit may be the feminine version of this theme, while On the Lips of Children is the masculine version.  While there is much less running, themes of pain and pleasure, and the lengths and hardship we will endure  for what we love are all in there.

            I was unable to predict if the runners I knew would relate to On the Lips of Children, but a few have chimed in. One of them is the very well known 'Detroit Runner' who called it an "Excellent Read" and that he read it in one sitting (yet he is now weary of taking morning runs in unknown cities.) Another running reader, someone who actually has the same tattoo of the main character, (miles to go before I sleep)  Gave the novel 5 stars, and said, "Like the running drug itself, this story will leave your veins pulsing and wanting more with each turn of the page. The addiction to the thrill can be intoxicating."

            A handful of other runners have the novel in their hands. Whether it suits their tastes or not, I do believe that they would enjoy it most if they could somehow read it on a treadmill. Everything is made more intense and beautiful through the eyes of the run.

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