The Life We’ve Chosen
I’m gonna take a tiny break from our mini-series about Villains to share a blog post from my friend Seth Godin.
Why? Because I think Seth has described in a few short lines the Writer’s Life (or any artist’s life) in a way that nails it like nothing I’ve ever seen. Seth’s blog, by the way, is my go-to. It’s the first one I read every morning. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
THE SOLO MARATHON
The usual marathons, the popular ones, are done in a group.
They have a start time.
A finish line.
A way to qualify.
And a date announced a year in advance.
Mostly, they have excitement, energy and peer pressure.
The other kind of marathon is one that anyone can run, any day of the year. Put on your sneakers, run out the door and come back 26 miles later. These are rare.
It’s worth noting that much of what we do in creating a project, launching a business or developing a career is a lot closer to the second kind of marathon.
No wonder it’s so difficult.
This is our life, yours and mine. I would add only two thoughts:
One, the long-form writer’s life (whether she’s writing fiction, nonfiction, TV, movies, whatever) is not just one marathon … and not just a marathon without spectators or Gatorade along the roadside or a sponsor or a ribbon and a medal at the end.
It’s one marathon after another.
Finish one, start another.
It’s marathoning as a way of life. As life itself.
And two, for me anyway, I wouldn’t want to live any other way.
I thank heaven every day that I don’t have to go to a job or report to a boss or have anyone or anything telling me what I can and cannot do.
I love the marathoning life.
I love to start on one overwhelming (to me) killer project and see it through, no matter what it takes, to the end.
I love finishing one and starting the next.
Oh, there’s a third thing.
An interviewer asked me the other day if I ever got lonely writing. I answered immediately, “No.” (In other words, I don’t mind at all that there are no spectactors lining the race course, or lists of finishers in the newspaper, etc.)
I’m never lonely writing because I’m with my characters.
Who better to run a race with? Not against them but alongside them.
The solo marathon life is the life for me.
Another thing about solo marathons… no waiting in line at the head. You got your own reserved seat and everything.
Good thoughts here for a Wednesday.
“I’m never lonely writing because I’m with my characters.” So true, and something only a writer can understand. Thanks for sharing this post!
Great stuff, Steve. SF
Well said, both Steve and Seth. The only time I feel overwhelmed by ‘this life’ is when others tell me what all else I must do daily in order to be a ‘real’ marathoner. Post, network, count subscribers, follow this, read that. Daily. It’s exhausting and joy-sapping. No. Just the shoes and the road. That’s it.
Yesterday I walked to my friend’s house and back, 11.2 miles. The longest I’ve ever walked in one day. After reading of Seth’s “other kind of marathon,” I Google mapped the distance from my house in Seattle to and around the northern half of Lake Washington and back, 26.5 miles. It’s a goal.
I’ve also increased my novel writing to a chapter every day plus a half.
Thanks, Steve, Seth, and David Goggins.
When I listened to David Goggins’ audiobook, it deeply transformed me and made me desire athletic achievements, because I love running and weight-lifting.
I realized though that my strength is my mind and my thoughts, and that I have even more excitement and joy when writing non-fiction, improving systems, solving problems, etc. Applying David Goggins’s mentality to content writing, lead generation and growth hacking was a bit of stretch, but I know this is what he wants for his readers.
I’m still gonna run and lift weights though, but not more than an hour per day.
“Be uncommon amongst uncommon in YOUR world”, not in Goggins world.
Great comment, Samuel. But I wouldn’t see applying David Goggins’s mentality to content writing, lead generation and growth as “a bit of stretch”. I would see it as exactly why he wrote the book. He knows that most of his readers will not be ultra-marathoners or even athletes, but that the lessons from ultra-marathoning apply to *everything* in life, to any worthwhile goal we might persue.
“I’m never lonely writing because I’m with my characters.” Yes!!! I love this, because it’s so true! This is something non-writers often can’t comprehend.
Love reading Seth’s blog, but I really enjoyed hearing your take on it.
‘Who better to run a race with? Not against them, but along side them.’ So true, thanks for that beautiful thought today, kind of says it all.
I love you, Steven, our brother scribe! “I’m never lonely writing because I’m with my characters.” Yes, yes, yes! Love it. What a dream life!
Thanks Steven! I’m subscribed to Seth Godin’s blog as well. It comes into my email everyday and it’s great!
I completely agree with you. I’m never lonely when I’m working on my art.
You’re books have really shortened my life’s learning curve. If/when I “make it” I’ll have your books to thank. I never would’ve started making films if it wasn’t for “The War of Art”.
You’re doing great work! I’m currently reading “The Knowledge”. It’s fantastic! I look forward to your blog every Wednesday!
That’s so cute. You have your fans too. You know we’re always cheering you on. 🙂
It’s almost like you are a unicorn! Thank you for your magical words!
Standing up alone for my goal and my project every morning and profoundly appreciate all every night, that’s how I challenge to live. In a way, it’s like a solo marathon, the second kind. But when keep going this way, I/we meet many comrades who live challenging self/Self, and we get so inspired by the other’s determination and struggle, and that keeps us going more. So in a way, that can be said as the first kind of marathon but each individual has a different route/destination/length/time of goal. It’s a marathon but not a race. I regard these blogs are sort of spiritual Sangha or Fellowship:)
I watched an Oprah Super Soul Session (which I love to listen to in the morning) and it talked about how our soul is a mothership and this reality is one of the little boats following the mother ship. That image really sticks with me while reading about marathons, because honestly, we are just steering the ship on a long journey no matter the project or experience. Thanks for inspiring with another metaphor for me to associate with my current project. My second book, which is an actual overwhelming project at the moment. I love every second of steering my ship or running my marathon.
I agree with the I don’t get lonely because I’m “with my characters” statement, up to a point. However, there is definitely something else going on. Don’t usually get to mystical, but once you bring your skill set up to the expectations of your goals, your ambitions, with research, reading and classes you start to calm down – into a kind of low rhythm with your work. A ‘calmness’ settles in, it’s thick in your brain. Other concerns start to fall away, the concerns that perhaps cause loneliness. You don’t notice it in yourself, you start to notice it in how people are treating you, dealing with you as you drift off. Friends come at you, sort of test you, probe the armor for ‘whatever’, but for the first time and for no apparent reason. It’s the same with strangers – it’s weird! You have to cut some of them loose. Tell me I”m lying…..
Get these posts weekly and a Jabs subscriber but don’t usually respond.
good hunting – Patrick
I found writing very lonely, but it’s a feeling that brings something to the party and adds another depth to the words. I find that we don’t see things as they are but as we are. Writing was a career for me and I learned I had a talent of being able to adapt my writing to any audience. So I followed the money, and lost my own voice in doing so. I am more honest with myself now and I’ve got my mojo back, and my peace of mind, but connecting with the lonely and vulnerable aspect of me is not so bad – I’m recognising it and using it for something worthwhile. We are after all spiritual beings having a human experience.
Group versus Solo Marathons = external vs. internal motivation. As writers, we have to internal motivation for writing, and internal drive, and a piece of ourselves in the story to keep us in the seat until “The End.” Love the Marathon analogy! Never really thought about it like that. Thank you (and Seth).
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