Monday, July 1, 2013

Inspiration Hurts

There I was, staring at an empty screen.

Granted, I was uncaffeinated and the morning was one of those hot, hazy ones that signals summer is here to stay, but still!

I'm so rarely at a loss for words that I didn't know what to do. I started one post and then deleted it because it wasn't flowing wordfast and poof my window of time elapsed and it was time to take Child #2 to swim team practice.

In lieu of hanging out poolside and watching my progeny swim like fish, I opted for a run.

What better way to wake up both mind and body, get the creative juices flowing. Sort of multi-tasking at its best, which means it should practically have my name scrawled all over it, big and bold like indelible hot pink Sharpie markers.

I plugged in my headphones, deleted the Selena Gomez songs added to my running playlist courtesy of Child #1, and was off to run the streets of Portlandia. It was great for two blocks.

Then a 'For Sale' sign caught my attention, the uneven sidewalk caught my toe and I skidded across the pavement to land in a big uncaffeinated lump in the cushy grass of a parking strip.

Blood was dripping down my elbow. I had a moment where I wanted to sob like one of my kids, but instead I picked up a leaf and used it to blot the blood while assuring the group of concerned bystanders who'd gathered out of thin air that I was just fine.

No one left.

I realized no one was going to leave until I made a choice. My options were either limp back to the swim club in defeat or finish my run and so, of course, I opted for the latter. After all, adrenaline was already pumping so I figured I might as well put the whole fight or flight thing to use and actually fly (or run at a medium-slow pace, as the case may be).

As I ran, it struck me that running with a bloody raspberry on my elbow isn't all that different than writing after rejection. In fact, I finished my four miles in record time. Likewise, past writing setbacks that tossed me into a metaphorical pile on the ground have forced me to dig in. Instead of limping away to do something else, those rejections push me to find better words, tighter plots and more developed characters.

It's a good realization. Particularly right now.

I'm at a point in my career where doors that used to be closed are sliding open. Instead of thinking everything will be fast food instant and easy, it's a reminder this is just another step.

There will be more rejections. It's practically the only thing guaranteed in a writing career, but when they come I'll look at my elbow and remind myself to dig deeper.

One last thing, in case Life happens to be reading today's post, I'm a writer. I get metaphors! In fact, I'm extremely comfortable with them. Next time you're in the mood to send me inspiration, don't feel the need to be so literal.

17 comments:

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Oh your poor elbow! Glad you at least got some inspiration out of it! :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Ouch! I'm sure you freaked out those people when you kept running.
That's one of the benefits of exercising - it gives you time to think.

Connie J Jasperson said...

Your post has just defined my own approach to life! I refuse to allow the roadblocks of of life to either define or defeat me, and I embrace the suck, because that is what strengthens me. Sometimes things come along and knock a person back, but I choose to pick myself up and do as you did--fly like the wind! You are an inspiration, Johanna!

jaybird said...

I bet you looked like you were tough as shiz to go on running with your elbow all bleedy like that!! Good for you. Glad you were able to pick yourself up and keep going. So important to remember and great lesson to learn to keep in mind for life!

Joanne Noragon said...

I cannot augment your metaphor, but I can sympathize. A very like heave in a sidewalk caught me and I went down, skidding on both palms. That was bad, but....I was carrying my favorite mug, filled with coffee, and it smashed. I had to drink coffee from Styrofoam the rest of the day, and I don't like that.

M Pax said...

Ouch! It's strange where we get inspiration, isn't it? Everything is fodder and fair game these days.

Julie Flanders said...

I'm so clumsy that it sometimes feels like I've spent half my life with either skinned elbows, skinned knees, or both. So I feel your pain! Love the metaphor - very inspiring.

Johanna Garth said...

Rachel, yes, that and my kiddos have been so sweet because they're worried about me.

Alex, totally. Some of my best ideas come while running.

Connie, I LOVE that phrase. 'Embrace the suck'

Jaybird, I think I did freak some people out :)

Joanne, that's so painful. A good coffee mug is really hard to replace!!

MPax, couldn't agree more.

Julie, awww, I can totally relate to the ouch factor. It's been a long time since I've skinned anything.

Carol Kilgore said...

Bad Ouchie! But a great metaphor :)

Mark Koopmans said...

Now *that* is a picture of a scrape - and you're smiling to boot... nice:)

Glad you *did* get some good out of the fall... I would have screamed like a big gurl's blouse.

PS... last time I fell running was only *after* I left the empty side roads.
I decided to sprawl close to a traffic light (which, of course, was on red) and there were a ton of bored drivers happy I'd dropped by - literally :)

Stephen Tremp said...

Major owie!!! Maybe some Selena Gomez tunes will help.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I admire you for running even after you fell and hurt yourself, though I hope you feel better now. I would have just gone home. But then again I'm not very good at running; I kind of wish I could wear shoes with velcro on them again so that I don't have to worry about tripping on my shoelaces.

Diana Wilder said...

I was smiling at the post, nodding at what was being said, thinking I've been there! Well put!

Then I hit the tumble, began laughing (with a sympathetic wince) and THEN I read the conclusion. Well done! And said in good time. (And well done on the doors sliding open and on the resolve to keep on in the face of disappointment whenever and however it comes.)

...now to get some caffeine

Jill Haugh said...

Yeah! Rock on Tough Grrrl!

(Now don't pick your scabs.)
~Just Jill

Caitlin said...

Writing without coffee? Is that a thing?

But ouch! Way to go finishing your run, though. Persevering through adversity, injury, and rejection is a huge part of many endeavors. Unfortunately, writing seems to come with their own fair share.

Unknown said...

Ah, the funny bone ...

Unknown said...

Ah, the funny bone ... (Cheers, Ross ;)