The day after the Ironman, I was itching for a run. I’d taken a few days off due to a tight Achilles tendon and after watching all of those athletes all day I could barely sit still. “Be careful,” my husband said from his deck chair. “You don’t want to end up like me.”
Like what? An Ironman? That didn’t sound so bad. But I knew what he really meant. He’d injured his calf two months before and by the time the race rolled around, he’d only managed a handful of short distance runs. Definitely not the optimal prep for the marathon leg of an Ironman.
Despite his warning, I was planning to run at least six miles and hopefully eight. I headed off on a flatter than usual route. Up here in Long Lake, all roads lead to hills, some are just not as heart-stoppingly steep as others. I hit the familiar PRIVATE! sign leading to the boy scout camp, but I was sure that sign was meant for hunters, not runners, so I kept on. At the end of a descent on a narrow gravel road bordered by tall pines, I landed on a wooden bridge over a brook that opened out into marshes. Further out, I could see the lake and not another human in sight. I kept on and when I couldn’t go any further, I turned back and ran home ending up with a 7.5 mile run. Not too bad!
The day after that, Tom left to return home to work for a few days, while the boys and I stayed at the lake house. Bored one night, I read an article in one of Tom’s magazines. Even if you’re not a triathlete, Jesse Thomas’s Triathlife pieces are hysterical and I especially liked this one about becoming injured the week before a big race. Using Jesse’s four questions, I considered how my Achilles tendon felt since my run and decided that it was not a serious injury, which made me happy because running is my favorite outlet, especially up here where nature is so enchanting.
On Wednesday afternoon, while relaxing with a good book and munching a piece of dark chocolate, I idly picked up my phone to check for email. There in my inbox was the name of an agent I’d been pretty excited about. The name pulsed and glowed with the potential for making a lifelong dream come true. I took a deep breath, put down the chocolate and opened my laptop. If this was an important email, I wanted to read it full-sized and not distracted by delicious chocolate.
Alas, it was a rejection. Kindly worded, but a “no” nonetheless. The agent had said a couple of positive things about the writing, but nothing about why it wasn't a fit. Now, any writer who is trying to obtain an agent knows this feeling. Not just the rejection, though that’s not a positive feeling, but also the sense of having no control.
Lots of people compare the writing of a book to training for a marathon and there are parallels in terms of dedication and determination. But one day, my husband observed a big difference. He can sign up for a race knowing that if he trains hard and avoids serious injury, he will complete the race. Yet he’s watched me complete two entire novels and there’s still no guarantee that I’ll get an agent or that any of my books will be published.
I read the rejection one more time and closed my email. I thought about determination and endurance and I thought about what I have control over and what I don’t. Then, I opened a new tab on my internet browser and I registered to run the Philadelphia Marathon in November in support of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Of course I’m concerned that this niggling Achilles issue could get worse. But I know a lot about prevention and I have the tools to deal with injury. Hours spent training for a marathon will surely translate to less free time for writing and seeking an agent. But I often find that the less free time I have, the more productive I am. Will my focus on training steal away my focus from obtaining an agent for my book? When I read that rejection days after watching my husband’s Ironman, I realized that finding the right agent is going to take endurance and what better lesson is there than training for a marathon? Well, training for an Ironman, I suppose, but let’s not talk crazy!
In the meantime, the Ironman mantra does seem to be an appropriate battle cry: Anything is Possible. But if you're more literary-minded, take your inspiration from Lewis Carroll.
"Rejected" from Booktalk.com; Alice In Wonderland quote from Cakeinbed.blogspot.com