Friday, November 14, 2008

Real World Experience

I'm capping off the end of my vacation as I type this. That's right. 9 days of nothingness, unmarred by a trip and full of time to gel. Or so I thought. Today on my way back from a neighboring city I thought, "Where did my week go?" It seems like it was only Monday yesterday! Don't you hate it when the work week drags on and vacation whizs by? It just seems like, well...and injustice.

To get back on track, I'd planned to do a lot of reading. After all I have a TBR pile that's starting to lean like the Tower of Pisa. Alas, I did polish off the last of my Weight Watchers' book entitled START LIVING, START LOSING: INSPIRATIONAL STORIES THAT WILL MOTIVATE YOU NOW. (Interestingly enough one of the later shorts was from the actor that plays Parkman on Heroes!) Then I'd intended to go back to my beloved fiction. BUT my sister had just finished a book she lauded as hilarious and was always sharing snippets from. She insisted I just HAD to read THE NONRUNNER'S GUIDE FOR WOMEN: GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND ON WITH YOUR TRAINING. I dug in dutifully, and though it's got some technique and a lot about running (which I'm not keen on) it's actually good. What saves it from being another non-fiction title about the sport? The author's quirky tone and the personal way in which she takes the reader inside the world of marathon racing just as she'd been introduced as a newbie (who'd rather have watched the race on her TV). I'm 3/4 done, and think my sister ought to do the same thing...write a book that is. Though she is talking about doing a half marathon (that's just over 13 miles, btw) when we'd planned our next 5K at Myrtle Beach. And I said yes to another 5K! On Valentine's Day no less! (Hmm...a proposal idea like that in RUN FATBOY RUN did just pop to mind.)

That whole kernel of a romantic idea does beg one question...what would you learn about or do for a story idea? Would you do a marathon to feel the agony, learn the jargon, and run heel/toe like runners do for pure inspiration? Would you take a whirl in a track car or be tethered to a hot air balloon floating way above the ground? How about enrolling in a cooking class, horticulture seminar or college course on biotechnology?

One of the hardest things for me to choose about my characters is their occupation. Why? Because what they spend their time doing, and hopefully loving, is a reflection of themselves.Sure they can be tethered to a career, but if that's the case they do dream of something more....something that's as pleasant as a vacation every day.

I can't say running/walking 3 miles for the last 3 days has been pleasant, nor even fun. But it has put me closer to my goal--being in shape for my race this Saturday to honor my Dad. And spending time with my sister has fed my soul, helped me to believe in myself and therefore I'm not afraid to try new things. Heck, a couple years ago I'd have laughed in her face over running a 5K. These days I grin and bear it because I know my dad never gave up, so I can't either. That kind of perseverance is at the heart of any character we create as authors. So I've learned a valuable lesson...though my hip and knees wish I'd done it sooner!

;0) And there are all those men (some in short shorts) who'll be running ahead of me to provide creative inspiration as I huff and puff along. Who knows, some of them might even be single lung cancer survivors. See there's the dark backstory and baggage that hints at conflict...you can't go anywhere without it! The only question I have left to answer is--will his heroine be a fellow racer competing for his 1st place glory or a race official who tries to take that away?

Did you take the leap and try something your hero or heroine did? If so, kindly share your adventure!


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