Lori La Locataire (it means Lori the tenant, but it just sounds so much more like her in French), who lives in our house in London, gave me some terrific advice the other day, advice she’s picked up from an intense interaction of her own with the writing world. She says, Don’t Give Up. Sometimes, the simplest phrases stick.
I can’t – and won’t – give up The Novel now. I’m SO close to completing the first draft, and because I know from my working life that I’m happier editing than writing, I’m actually excited about being virtually ON the next step.
There was an opportunity to contemplate the similarities between writing and triathlon (No, I’m not going on about triathlon again! Stay with me! It’s interesting!) on Sunday. Nice hosted an Ironman. Now, listen: 2,500 people (humans just like you and me) jumped into the Baie des Anges at 6.30am on a pleasant Sunday morning, swam in the sea for 2.4miles (3.86km), ran out and jumped on a bike to go 112-mile (180km) in the foothills of the ALPS, and then (THEN!!!) ran a marathon (26.2 mile/42km).Joel and I biked down to the Promenade des Anglais (the restaurant closes after lunch on Sundays, yay!) to see what was going on and it was an absolute circus. The first finishers (elite sportifs) had already come in after 8 or 9 hours, and we went off for a swim, and aperitif, a stroll, dinner… When we went back a few hours later, finishers were still coming in in the dark. It was such a party! The organisers handed out vuvuzelas (remember them from South Africa World Cup?) and blow-up noisemakers, and we yelled and clapped and banged to egg people on the last few metres. It was really very inspiring. Families of entrants were waiting to run the last few yards with them, so it was all very teary-making as dads stumbled over the finish with their babies on their shoulders and mums grabbed grannies and grandchildren to complete the course with. Training for a triathlon like that obviously involves the whole family for a very long time, so everyone was celebrating. The supporter T-shirts were great: ‘I am an IronMom’, ‘Mon Papa est un IronMan’, etc etc. The organisers really were slick: they greeted each finisher by name in French and English with details of who they were, eg, ‘So and So from Belgium ‘YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!’ It went on for hours and because it was on a tannoy, everyone on the beaches and in the restaurants nearby could hear. Consequently, Joel and I had the phrase ringing in our ears for hours. We were forced to adapt it: ‘I am an IRON-SISSY!’ ‘You are an IRON-WUSS!’ And, when we got home to Ted, ‘You are an IRON- CAT!’
Witnessing that level of Not Giving Up has inspired me. Endurance. There’s always a point at which you let yourself come to a stop: you light up a cigarette again, you slow down to a walk instead of keeping up a running pace, you eat another piece of chocolate, you lose patience with someone you love when you swore you wouldn’t, you write 500 words when you told yourself you’d write a thousand… Endurance is about not lighting the cigarette.
Of course, none of this applies to having another glass of rose even though you have to put ice cubes in it because it’s not chilled yet.