Saturday, September 22, 2007

Why I Run
Reason #6 - To Find The Courage To Read and Write

There’s a story of mine that hasn’t been told in quite some time. In a previous age, in a previous life, back before I knew running, back before I even knew myself, I was a poet and a writer. My exciting but brief career started when I wrote a few creative pieces based on my reactions to a personal tragedy and handed them in for extra credit for my high school English class. The next day, the teacher held me back after class to tell me that I had the potential to be a great writer. Although initially I had my doubts, he sounded genuine so I believed him and started to write. Since that day, I kept a daily journal and wrote in it religiously everyday throughout high school and most of college.

Although most of my writings back in those days were nothing more than the musings and sentiments of an urban teenager going through the usual torments of adolescence and early adulthood, I decided after college that I would share some of the better pieces in a public venue just to see if my writing was any good or whether I’d been led down the wrong path by my old English teacher (although I doubt it because that teacher turned out to be Mr. Frank McCourt). I signed up to give a series of summer readings at a coffeehouse around the city. Because so much of what I was to share was so personal and because I had so little confidence in my own writing, I kept these readings a complete secret from all my friends and family. (To this day, I still get grief from so many that they missed out on my few seconds of fame!) The first set of performances went well. Although I was a nervous wreck and didn’t take my eyes off my paper at all until the third session, most of the audience clapped and cheered at the end. Two people even came up after one of my readings to discuss motivations and influences they detected in my style of writing. I was pleasantly surprised.

Unfortunately, that was the highlight of my writing career. The coffeehouse sessions the following year did not end nearly as well. After one particularly bad night, when the weather outside was terrible, and only three people attended my reading, the manager complained to my agent that my poetry were “incompatible” with his business model and gave me the pick slip. That night, when I got the news, I was so distraught that I lit my writing journal on fire and threw it into the fireplace. I haven’t written another poem since that fateful night, when I threw away the only record of my best writing. My party line is that I don’t have the time to write anymore. In actuality, I’m scared to death of going up on that stage again only to hear that I shouldn’t have bothered.

But now that I’ve become a more consistent runner and blogger, I think I’m almost ready to work my way back to recording personal thoughts on random sheets of paper again. Distance running helps because it forces me to deal with performance anxiety and allows ample alone time for creative thinking. Blogging helps in that it gives me a forum to formulate thoughts, opinions, and observations and enter them in a semi-permanent form. Although not intended, both may be just what I need to convince myself to give my writing career another try.

4 comments:

Reba said...

So did you run the 1/2 yesterday or what?

aham23 said...

you clearly are a thoughtful writer and a good one at that.

and yeah, what about that 1/2? later.

Jon Rankin said...

Hi Running Laminator,

My name is Jon Rankin. I stumbled upon your post and am interested in having you utilize your passion for running and your skills for writing by contributing to a book project I'm starting called: "Why Running Can Save the World" My goal is to gather a collection of essays and poetry written by avid runners (high school, collegiate, professional and recreational) in hopes of creating a greater awareness around the world of the power of running.

If you're at all interested please e-mail me at: shoes4thesoul@shoes4thesoul.org. Thanks and great blog!

Jon Rankin said...

P.S. What you would be contributing would either be an essay and/or poem reflecting an answer to why you believe running can save the world. I realize that I didn't mention this in the first comment I posted.

 
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