If you read my January blog post then you may recall that I have an issue with my shoes – mostly my running shoes – that seem to land wherever I take them off and remain there until my next run. It’s an annoying habit – even to me – and yet I can’t seem to shake it.
Well here they are. Actually these are my old shoes. I retired them a couple weeks ago and yes, they are still by the door where I last left them. I need new shoes every four months, and I happened to pick these up as I began the final editing processes for my first book, Untethered. It was fall, and the Cleveland weather was slowly pushing me off the road and onto the indoor track at the gym.
Running is my "go to" pressure release valve. It’s hard for me to keep up my mileage on the track. There are only so many times I can run around in a circle. When it’s ten laps to a mile, it adds up and I get dizzy. My long distance running game inevitably shortens and the adrenaline and endorphin flows change. I get frustrated when I feel like I am not “getting anything” from my run.
For anyone who has ever had to edit a document, no matter what size, you know it can be a tedious, mind numbing process. When it’s a two-hundred-page manuscript, to me, it felt like I was living under a gigantic microscope. I had shifted from these long creative stretches of story telling, to narrow, focused efforts to find as many imperfections as I could. I would review the same passage over and over again, looking for the flaws, finding something else I needed to fix.
When frustration peaked, I packed up my running shoes, and went to the gym. There, I would run in circles until I made myself dizzy. Instead of grammar and punctuation, I put my attention on form, in search of the smallest variances and faults. I was aggravated, and felt as if I was getting no where. I was physically manifesting what was happening for me emotionally.
I was in the short game and I had lost perspective on its value. Shifting to a shorter training span for a couple of months actually helps you become a more powerful runner. It allows you to experience “active” rest. It’s an opportunity to shift focus and create awareness. Editing is the same way. Sinking into the details provides a more intentional perspective on the work. Yes, it’s about the nits and gnats, and while correcting every fault is impossible, it was powerful for me to perceive my creative work through the lens of scrutiny, all in the effort to tell a stronger story. It’s a necessary evil, and a balance to the process.
The short game might not change the way I drag my right toe and pull my left ankle. It didn’t catch every grammatical error in my story, either. It did allow me to build endurance and reach deeper into my creativity. Even though I was running in circles, I traveled many, many miles, and took huge strides in my writing and training. I am better for it – physically and emotionally. I realized we need both the short and long games to keep us in balance for there is wisdom and growth in each.
Last week, I bought a new pair of shoes to celebrate the end of the "edit", and beginning of spring and my next writing project. As I lace up, I know I may always prefer the longer stretches. Cleveland's unpredictable weather patterns promise to push me back to the track every so often, and that's okay. Heading out the front door to the open road, I'll stretch my sight to the point were I can't see, and imagine what's there. I'll start heading there knowing that no matter the duration, focus, or intensity required to get there, it will be worth it.