Me: So, we need to talk.
Also Me: Uh oh… this sounds serious. It’s not about the drinking, is it? Because that’s totally under control. It’s not that I have to drink, it’s that I like to drink. Two totally different things.
Me: It’s not about the drinking. But dude, you sound like an intervention waiting to happen when you talk like that. Work on your rationalizations.
Also Me: OK, then what is it?
Me: I want to discuss your goals. I’ve been doing some thinking and I feel like you’ve lost sight of your dream.
Also Me: Which dream?
Me: Your single biggest lifelong dream, dummy.
Also Me: Joining the circus? Cause I’m totally working on that, yo. It takes time.
Me: Not joining the circus! First of all, that’s an unrealistic fantasy and you know it. Secondly, it’s been your dream for like 10 minutes.
Also Me: At least 3 years-ish! And it hurts my feelings when you say it’s unrealistic.
Also Me: My dream to have a threesome with Christian Slater and Winona Ryder on a croquet court?
Me: Not that one either. But I think you could potentially make it happen now. I’m pretty sure neither one of them is doing much right now.
Also Me: The one about breaking the Guinness World Book record for consecutive days napped?
Me: OH MY GOD, NO. Your dream from the time you were 6 years old to write novels! Hello??
Also Me: Oh, totally. You’re right, that is my lifelong dream. I forgot.
Me: See, that’s the thing. If writing a book is really something you want to do, it needs to be one of the main focuses of your life. Instead, you’ve mostly just been telling yourself for the last 30 years it’s something you’d be really good at if you just put your mind to it, and you’re totally gonna… one of these days.
Also Me: Well… I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I’m just really super busy right now. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I have three kids and this whole time-consuming real estate career-
Me: And a million working out hobbies. Plus you read a ton of Jezebel/Gawker articles and still manage to have time to drink wine and watch god knows how many MTV shows at night. You have time for what you want to do and you know it.
Also Me: I’m working up to it. I’ve been writing this blog fairly religiously for four years now. That’s progress.
Me: It was progress. You’ve learned a lot about voice, pacing and cutting fat from the story to get to the action. And you’ve still got lots more to learn. But you plateaued long ago. You’re paralyzed by the idea of long form.
Also Me: I think about it all the time. I have all these ideas, but I’m afraid I don’t know enough about perspective and point of view to even get started. What if I get going and commit all of this time and energy to a project and it sucks ass because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing? What if it turns out I’m not cut out to write novels at all and I have to completely rethink my entire identity? I know I’m the only one who thinks of me as an Eventual Novelist, but it’s a fairly ingrained state of mind. If I’m not ‘Meant to Write’, I’m not even sure who I am.
Me: You need to get over that and come to grips with the fact that it is going to suck ass.
Also Me: That’s super helpful. Now I totally want to devote a large chunk of my life to a project we all know is going to be terrible.
Me: When you started running, almost exactly three years ago, was it your goal to be the best runner? The fastest?
Also Me: No, I just wanted to be able to do it.
Me: Right. And it was super hard at first, right?
Also Me: Yes. I remember the first time I got through 2 miles in intervals of running and walking. I thought I was going to die. It felt like the supreme amount of effort.
Me: And is it easy now?
Also Me: No. It’s definitely easier than it was, but it’s still, for the most part, an enormous pain in my ass to get out of bed early and I spent nearly all of most runs try to talk myself into continuing. But now I know it will be worth it in the end, and that I don’t want to lose my momentum, so there’s way less mental work on the front end to convince myself it needs to be done.
Me: Because you’re the fastest? You’re the best at it?
Also Me: No. I’m not fast at all. I’m not the super shittiest at running, but I’m not going to win any race. The physical and mental benefits are just worth it. I feel good. I feel proud of myself for doing it. I enjoy participating in events. I like being strong. I like seeing muscles in my thighs. When I want to murder/suicide my family and myself, going for a run helps. It’s a reset. It’s an accomplishment.
Me: And now, according to Map My Run (which doesn’t track your treadmill miles and you didn’t even start using until a couple of years ago) you’ve run more than 1,400 miles. You’ve spent hundreds of hours at this thing you’re only moderately skilled at.
Writing a novel isn’t one of those things anyone is just born knowing how to do.
Also Me: But S.E. Hinton-
Me: Was like 15 when she wrote The Outsiders. Yes. Some people are prodigies, but if you think she didn’t put any work into that, that it didn’t kind of suck until it was edited, molded, shaped, then you’re kidding yourself.
You’re good at lots of things, but were you fantastic at any of them the first time you did them?
Also Me: No.
Me: Your first circus class was fun, but you couldn’t even climb halfway up the silks. You were sore for days. You’ve been working at it for almost a year and you’re still only getting to where you have the stamina to do much at all in the air.
Also Me: True.
Me: So what makes you think you can write a decent novel without sucking hard at it repeatedly before you figure shit out?
Also Me: That was excessively vulgar.
Me: You know what I meant.
Also Me: Yes. I know. You’re right. If I’m gonna do it, I gotta really do it. I have to stop being so afraid to fail.
Me: You need to embrace that you’re going to fail! You need to take it to bed with you at night and get all cuddly with it and maybe even let it get to second base. Failing is how you get to succeeding! Failing is the casting director you totally have to bang if you really want to be a big star.
Also Me: Now that’s just wrong.
Me: It’s possible I got going down a road and I crossed a line. I apologize.
Also Me: Accepted.
Me: What was that running goal you were tossing around in your head the other day?
Also Me: I was thinking about how many miles I average a week normally and thinking it might be cool to make a point to run 1000 miles in a year. I tend to run 12-15 miles a week, and that would require me to average almost 20 miles a week. Which would be a significant bump, but accomplishable, I think.
Me: OK, so just for the sake of round numbers, let’s say you average 10 minute miles.
Also Me: Yeah, that’s not too far off. In the winter I’m faster, but not a ton. Like I said, I’m not what you’d call fast.
Me: So we’re talking about 10,000 minutes devoted to running for the next year, right? Which is like 167 hours, yes? You feel like that’s more than you’re doing right now, but not a ton more.
Also Me: Yes.
Me: So what if, instead, you make it your goal to devote 10,000 minutes to your novel in the next year. 167 hours with no internet or distractions, only writing, broken up into 200 minutes a week. Four 50 minute sections. That’s palatable, right?
Also Me: I guess so… although it’s hard to get 50 minutes straight without a kid/husband/client/Jezebel article bothering me.
Me: Bullshit. You already do it 3-4 times a week when you run. They can’t bug you because you’re out. You just need to make it a priority. It’s a reasonably short amount of time, you just need to schedule it in and figure it out. You might have to get up early or stay up later. You might miss a night of TV or two. You’re going to have to muscle your way through it and convince yourself, minute by minute, word by word, at first, to keep going. But it will get easier. It will become habit. You’ll start to see progress and growth. You’ll feel the benefits. It will be easier to keep going. It won’t ever get easy, but it will be worth it.
Also Me: Fuck you. Fine. I guess that makes sense. When do I have to start?
Me: Now, dummy. This week. No time like the present.