My boss ran the Chicago Marathon last week. Apparently she does this every year. I learned about this astounding feat of athleticism a day or two after the race, and told her how awesome I thought it was.
“Oh,” she said,” I run it in like 6 or 7 hours, though. Not very impressive.”
“But you finished!” I said, still amazed to learn this information. “You ran a marathon! You ran 26 miles. I couldn’t run 26 blocks.”
“Oh, it’s not a big deal,” she said modestly.
But I was still floored. It IS a big deal. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t make the cut for the Boston Marathon, or the Olympic team. She RUNS A FREAKING MARATHON!!! THAT IS BOTH A BIG DEAL AND IMPRESSIVE!
I’ve always wanted to run a marathon. Not because the act of running that much over that length of time necessarily seems super fun to me, but mostly because the act of completing a marathon seems utterly impossible. And I like the idea of doing something impossible.
The other thing that has always seems utterly impossible to me is writing a novel.
And because I’m better at words than sprints, I’ve decided to conquer that one first.
I am going to write a novel.
I’m going to write the first draft of this novel in November for National Novel Writing Month. There is something terrifying about saying “I am writing a book.” The few times I have uttered this phrase I feel pretentious, ridiculous, like a total faker. I have a HUGE case of Impostor Syndrome.
I think this comes from my Scandinavian background. My rural (ish) midwestern mentality. Dar Williams said it perfectly when she sang:
“Back where I come from we never mean to bother, we don’t like to make our passions other people’s concerns.” ~Iowa
And even while I encourage my teens to participate, while I support my friends with their own creative self-expression, there are these vampires in my head that say “you don’t have anything interesting to say,” “what makes you think anyone cares?” and, of course, “who do you think you are?”
The vampires in my head, the perfectionist in me, the ‘Go Big or Go Home’ mentality I have, the part of my brain that says ‘it’s no good playing if you can’t win’ tells me that that unless it makes the best seller list I’m just another loser who claims to have written a book.
However, the rest of my brain knows that the vampires are just telling me that because they’re scared. Scared of failing, and scared of succeeding. And as Sara Bernicasa recently wrote, when things scare us we should just DO IT ANYWAY.
It’s equally as impressive to me that my boss finished the Chicago marathon in 6 hours as it is when people finish it in 3.
It is equally as impressive to finish a manuscript of a novel that is never widely published as one that makes the best seller list.
And the only way to get better at things is to start doing them in the first place.
So I’m writing a book for NaNoWriMo.
A book about friendship. About performing. About failing. About succeeding.
Maybe it will be shit. But I’m going to write it anyway. And after November I’m going to rewrite it and rewrite it until it’s the best I can get it. Because WHY THE HELL NOT?
And maybe in there I’ll start running, a little, too.
I like the idea of being an Impossible Girl.