I’m a Tier 4 writer and runner

After watching the New York Marathoners run into Central Park today, I couldn’t help but notice a striking similarity between running and writing. As a back-slidden runner and writer, I could easily make direct correlations to my experience. If you’re reading this and a statistician – ignore the n=1!

There are several tiers of runner types:

Tier one – the hardcore runners. They do this everyday and they come in ahead of the pack with their names (not a number) on their chest. The Stephen Kings, Sidney Sheldon and JK Rowlings can tell you all about this. We won’t put EL James on this list just yet – there is a whole ‘nuther list for her. People in this category are dedicated and have a writing or running routine that is designed for them to make the A-list. For runners this may come at a cost. I wonder if their husbands say – “Oh wow, thats amazing you won the marathon, let’s have sex to celebrate.” I doubt it. If I was the guy – I would just say “Oh wow, you won, you’re amazing, you can take me out to dinner with your prize money.” Unless the sinewy look is what he’s into…

Tier 2 – the very good runners that don’t aspire to be hardcore but like the benefits of being good.  For runners – the benefits can include healthier lifestyle and weight maintenance. I have to say, I watched the second wave of female runners come in and I saw they still maintained the desirable female figure.  Writers in this tier are hardcore in that some of them may have a family and or keep a regular job where writing is relegated to a  secondary priority but they still do it – a lot.

Tier 3 – these are a mix of really good runners that don’t need the headache of making this important such that they give up seeing their girlfriend to make time to write. They run or write when they can and this is considered a fun distraction. However, “when they can” tends to be relatively regularly.

Tier 4 – the wannabes. I’m quite familiar with is category although I generally fluctuate between Tier 3 and 4. This tier contains the most fun people to talk to about writing or running. In most cases, there is an eagerness to pretend some expertise in the field but will also honestly admit that they don’t really write or run. This is due to lack of any tangible or visible evidence that they do both. If they are unlucky and a bit overweight – they may have plenty of tangible evidence – muffin tops for instance – that goes against doing any sort of exercise. Writers will have a lot of incomplete writings in some form they would rather not have anyone read. OK – thats harsh but most people training for a marathon tend to be leaner than other people watching TV marathons on Netflix. This tier generally has no identifiable routine whether its running or writing, but we all get to hear about how much they want to do it.

According to a Seinfeld episode, I can make fun of Tier 4 because thats where I have been for the last year. Until Nanowrimo 2015. I am now working my way up to Tier 3. At the end of this, I can legitimately say #am writing. Forget the running thing – I’m built like a Kenyan runner so people automatically assume I run.

Wish me luck!

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Live From Kindle…

Anita Rodgers "Writer Chick" Blog

cover coffee and crime thumbnail  mre thumbnail 3  cover death of the family recipe thumbnail

For those three or four readers who’ve been anxiously awaiting my mystery series, I’m happy to tell you the books are officially published and up on Amazon. (click on pictures to view Amazon page.) I hope some of you will give them a try and that they provide a happy reading experience for you. If you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, you can read the book for free. If you’re curious but not sure, you can download a free excerpt (the first 7 chapters) to you Kindle device or Kindle app.

Next up

I’m revising and editing my first novel, False Witness and will be publishing it under my own moniker. I believe it will be a much better read and I’ve got a better cover too.

After that, I’m digging into a new series – which I hope to have ready for release within the next year.

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The FOUR Challenge: Day Three Catastrophe

Time for McDonalds?

Going on this diet is a little like the first week of trying to be an evangelical Christian. I could also compare it to meditation but the concept is really the same.

You start with this idea that you want to make your life better and living the spiritual ecstasy of evangelism is one way to do it. Of course you could just read the Bible and be nice to everyone, or take a walk in the park every day and ditch and candy – but as the Bhuddha said – life is suffering – so embrace it. I chose to eat cabbage for a week – well variations of it that are all unappealing except for the fruit – and would never be found in any part of my normal bush hugger (but not quite tree hugger) diet.

During this week of dieting, I expect a point I wonder why I am doing it. Typically feelings such as these are followed closely by shame, self disgust, remorse – a thesaurus full of guilt at my weakness. Then I look around me, at the absence of self deprivation and I wonder if they are judging me. Once you start speaking in tongues, someone will judge you – as will someone else when you decorate a piece of lettuce with basaltic vinegar for lunch.

The problem with being social is that you hang out with people, and you have drinks. The other problem is that this week, alcohol was not on my diet….I’m a back-slidden dieter. One Apperol Spritz with Luca my Italian coach – and I’m wondering what does this all mean?

Nothing written (except this blog)

Nothing edited – I’m running out of time

I lost another half pound or so – I forgot since I weighed myself this morning.

I have nothing but time….4 whole days.

FOUR Challenge – Day 2. Creating more tension

Day 2Don’t judge me but I decided to geek out on the graph. Apparently I have too much time on my hands. Actually – you can judge me all you want. Day 2 kicked off rather late. I won’t go into the list of excuses including late night. As the graphical presentation shows, I’m doing ok and Im not as lazy as I like to think I am. I ran my 5km at the end of the day. I mostly ate what i was supposed to. Apparently I was supposed to eat a potato, and i forgot about that. By the time I remembered, I was too lazy to go to the store.

I should talk about my lame attempt at writing. 1500 words in about three hours. Am I lacking inspiration? I learned two things today.

  1. Create more tension – I have chapters where there is not a lot of action happening besides setting the scene. This is required here and there. However, the trick is how to maintain tension when setting a scene. This Blog on Six steps to creating more tension helped. Some genres are easier than others. In my story a little boy gets lost in town and my task today was to fill in a part of the story that has been missing although the rest of the story is written. I almost made it. One way I gauge how engaged my readers could be is by evaluating how engaged I am when i write the chapter.
  2. Forced accountability with critique groups helps a lot. I have a date with a friend on Tuesday and she’ll get me to finish the chapter before then.

In three weeks and minus 4 pounds –  I have to hand over a completed draft to the boy to read through….

The FOUR Challenge – Day 1

The 7 days Goal: edit four chapters, write four thousand words, lose four pounds, exercise 4km four times.

Day 1 of the Cabbage soup diet consists of a large selection of fruit and a large selection of vegetables boiled together to make Cabbage soup. I actually decided to commit to the diet mid morning. Luckily, I hadn’t really eaten anything.

I woke up bright and early at 6:30 am because my bladder was bursting and I’d tried to ignore it for some time. I’d like to say I got up early to get ready for this busy challenge filled weekend, but I’d be exaggerating – a lot. I’m learning Italian and so I spent an hour on a vocabulary app while in bed. I typically use this method to justify procrastination.

I’ve just moved to a new apartment in NYC and so there are a couple of apartment/closet straightenings that still need to be done. I’d budgeted a few hours this weekend to clean this up. So I changed into my running gear first. I always do this so I don’t use the excuse of the stress related to dressing up to go running as a way to get out of it. I charged my iPod (yes, some people still have those) so that I wouldn’t use the lack of music as a reason not to run. I’ve done this before.

I grabbed a plum and a coffee and started tidying up after unsuccessfully trying to convince my boyfriend (in Europe) that I needed new sunglasses. He said something like I have a pair already and that the other two we got last year I left somewhere (I forgot one in a plane and another one in a shoe shop in Mainz). He doesn’t think that I should get Salvatore Ferragamo sunglasses on 5th Avenue or any sunglasses anywhere if they cost over $20. I could start by discussing the advantages of having a long distance boyfriend (and my own job).

Around 10:30 am I took off to Central Park just around the corner and did a very difficult 4 km run. Day 1 (or 2) of the heatwave was already underway and it was about 90 degrees. To add to the heat stress, I may have run a grand total of 15 km in the past year (about 10 of them were over two days in June).

After the run, I wasn’t as tired as I was expecting given the heat, the low caloric intake and the exercise. I was high on adrenalin and lavazzo coffee.  I cleaned the kitchen, grabbed a couple of apples and then took off to Bed Bath and Beyond to get a bathroom scale. Yes, I didn’t have one. As much as I was concerned about my weight, I had no idea what it was.

Mid afternoon, I made the cabbage soup. Lots of vegetables, spices and herbs. I hate cabbage, but not enough to substitute it with something else like broccoli. I would have, except that at the supermarket, the broccoli looked like it arrived at the store for 4th of July. I ate the cabbage soup. Unappetizing as I expected. So I ate a large bowl of fruit salad for dessert. The diet shouldn’t be so challenging for me because I’m typically a “eat to live” person and so as long as I eat something it’s usually sufficient. Except when I’m stressed, then I get picky.

I started editing a chapter. Editing is tedious. I didn’t finish or come close to. Passive voice. I have a lot of that. I need to get that aggressive voice going. So I gave up and fell asleep. I woke up at 7pm and started writing. I wrote 1000 words. Its not 4000, but I have a week.

So far, my challenge is going well. Its easy on a weekend. we’ll see how  well it goes after I return to work on Monday.

Image from  Baju Muslim Tabaru.

 

FOUR Chapters, FOUR thousand words, FOUR pounds, FOUR kilometers per day for FOUR Days Challenge

I decided that people are generally self limited. That a key component of success is to DO something. I’ve come up with numerous elaborate excuses about why I am packing on the cellulite, why I’m not finishing my book, and why I may never really be successful. Of course one of  my excuses is my day job, but thats not going anywhere any time soon.

So I created the FOUR challenge. Starting Saturday 15 August I put forward some ambitious goals.

Edit FOUR chapters. My Beta readers have given me a lot of feedback that I have not incorporated into the story yet. So out of approximately 25 Chapters, I have 6 done. This week I want to do FOUR.

Write FOUR thousand words. There is a gap in the story I have to fill. It may take a little less than 4000 words or a little more. But at least it will be done. If the story is not completed by the end of the year, I will feel like a loser. What happens to Farai when he is chased by Stanley, the crazy street kid. I will know after this weekend…

Lose FOUR pounds. I’ve steadily gained fat in the last year. With that, I gained 4 pounds. Much of that is not due to over-eating. Its just plain laziness. Lazy to exercise and lazy to cook decent meals (so I substitute with popcorn now and then). It’s starting to show. I have a vacation planned in September (Provence) and I’d like my current long distance relationship partner to not be creative about cellulite comments. These skinny Europeans. Annoying.

Enter Cabbage soup diet. I wont lose four pounds, I will lose maybe 6 or so after 7 days and gain about 3 or so back the first day I eat a regular meal. At least I jump start the 2 or 3 pound loss and challenge myself sufficiently. This one Im Ok falling short (over the 7 days).

FOUR km per day and I only have to do it FOUR times this week. If I can do this while on that crazy diet…

I forgot to mention the reward. OK, it’s nice when we can say that we are able to meet the challenge. I will feel good. Even better, I’ll feel ecstatic if I don’t fall back to my old lazy habits. But I get to buy myself a birthday gift at the end. Yes, ok, my birthday is in February but that’s just details…

Ten Signs That You Were Meant to be a Writer

I was meant to be a writer. Or at least a wannabe writer. I carry 9 of the 10 signs. I’ve working in the same field the whole time but I am constantly drawing from the strange humanity I’m forced to live in…

Anita Rodgers "Writer Chick" Blog

pencil nose

Ever wonder if you were meant to be a writer? If so, the following may help you decide.

1. You’re more comfortable making stuff up than dealing with reality

You can spend the day, imagining strange new worlds, a new language or a new superpower. When you were a kid, the other kids came to you for creative solutions to ditching school. No matter how much trouble you get into, you always manage to talk your way out of it. You’re damn good at making stuff up.

2. You’ve worked in at least five different careers and none of them stuck

You’re a multi-tasker. You seem to be good at everything. But you get bored easily – once you’ve mastered something (or just gotten the hang of it) you tire of it and move onto the next thing. Alternately, you know a little bit about a lot of things. But…

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How nice are you? There is actually a test.

So I took the “nice” Test. I answered YES to about 22 of 100 of the questions below. That gave me a 78% “nice” measure. so I’m nicer than most people. Its not that hard – some of the questions are…a little extreme. The ones in bold are my YES answers – with excuses.

1.) wanted somebody to stop talking, because you could not stand the sound of his/her voice?

Yes – I can say that I do this all the time. Some people don’t know when to stop talking, when onto to repeat information that is basic and has already been said – by them – and it makes it worse if their voice is horrible, e.g. too high pitched, gravelly – clear your throat or stop talking!

2.) used somebody for your own personal benefit?

Yes, a guy I’d known for three days said he was in love with me and so I asked him to pick me and a friend up at the airport so I didn’t have to pay $120 for a rental car (yes, JFK peak season). He said yes. For clarification, we met and I left for Seattle, on a phone call, he professed his undying love. Really dude! I know I’m awesome but hey….

3.) used somebody for your own personal benefit and not felt badly about it afterward?

See number two. Stupidity has consequences.

4.) lied?

Well, but not seriously for example – A health-nut ex asked me where I was, and I said “At home” because at that time I was pulling into Burger King. Or in another situation, I was asked if I had left home yet and since I was running late – said yes…Or on a date with a guy he asks if we will see each other again and while suppressing a yawn because he is so boring I said yes. 

5.) lied to the police?

Yes – I said I was speeding because I need to rush to the bathroom for specific female-relevant sanitary processes. It worked and saved me from a $150 speeding ticket. I was going 50 mph in a 35 mph zone at 1:00am, dude go home. Only works with males.

6.) thought about breaking somebody’s arm, leg, or whatever? 7.) yelled at a stranger for no apparent reason? 8.) gotten mad at somebody just for the sake of getting mad? 9.) felt the urge to kill an animal?

10.) actually killed an animal?

Yes, chickens, mice, rabbits etc. They are all considered food where I come from and its better to kill them first (and cook them) before you eat them. 

Oh..and I did in vivo studies in grad school……do rats and mice count with this question?

11.) felt the urge to kill a person? 12.) actually killed a person?

13.) believed you were the centre of the universe?

But I am. I am the center of my universe.

14.) been completely bored when a person has told you something extremely important to him/her?

Often. I mean, we have to take into consideration what people think is important. e.g. broken nail(s), hair drama, the time they went to Manhattan for the first time because even if they live an hour away, it’s so scary and they had to get over that fear. For the latter, I blame ridiculous parents that breed pussy kids and now I have to listen to this. No.

15.) been described as a hypocrite? 16.) agreed with the description? 17.) been told you did not care enough about something?

18.) ignored somebody when they were crying?

Some people cry over silly things. When adult males cry all the time, it’s too much. When kids cry, I completely ignore because its loud and I don’t believe adults should entertain this too-much-baby-behavior. One kid was crying because I sent another kid to put a banana peel in the garbage and he started crying because he wanted to get sent as well. Puh-leese. This, I ignore.

19.) punched somebody? 20.) punched somebody in the face? 21.) hurt somebody on purpose? 22.) hurt somebody to the point they didn’t fully recover? 23.) hated somebody for no reason?

24.) made an ethnic joke?

Well…yeah. Is being from Vienna an ethnicity? On another note, I wrote that in Zimbabwe, we ate nigger balls – black candy. We didn’t know (or care) what that meant but we all ate them. I figured it out when I was about 19 years old. Still call them that.

25.) made any other joke intended to offend a specific group of people?

What’s the difference with #24

26.) put salt on a snail? 27.) egged somebody’s house?

28.) stolen anything?

Money from my mom’s purse.

29.) stolen anything from a small child? 30.) tripped somebody? 31.) tripped somebody with the intent to cause harm?

32.) thought that you were the only one who mattered?

Sometimes I am. 

33.) purposely broken something which belonged to another person? 34.) borrowed something only never to return it? 35.) started a fight?

36.) insulted somebody?

I can imagine. I speak my mind sometimes. But Im learning to be more sensitive.

37.) made somebody cry because of an insult?

Not that I know of, but see number 36.

38.) made a voodoo doll of somebody you didn’t like? 39.) pulled somebody’s hair? 40.) purposely ruined somebody’s clothes? 41.) wanted to poison somebody? 42.) poisoned somebody? 43.) set somebody on fire? 44.) kicked somebody in the shins? 45.) told somebody that (s)he looked terrible? (in a malicious way.)

46.) commented on somebody’s lack of intelligence?

Yes. It as an ex. For example, he thought it was a good idea to drive to the trains station to get $2 worth of quarters so we could use the coin operated washing machine in the basement. He would need to make this $2 run about 5 times a month. My suggestion which he didn’t consider was to go to the bank and just get $20 worth of quarters. The bank was closer than the train station.
47.) led somebody on with an ulterior motive?

Maybe. 

48.) felt that if somebody didn’t stop doing a particular thing, that you were going to strangle him/her? (or something equally or more mean.)  49.) felt that somebody was just in the way? 50.) wanted to be friends with somebody only because (s)he was popular? 51.) thrown somebody into a dumpster? 52.) not warned somebody when you foresaw something bad about to happen to him/her? 53.) thought you were better than somebody else, only because you were better looking? 54.) been decidedly greedy?

55.) felt that when a person died, (s)he was doing a service to society?

Yes. Yes. Yes. This included certain presidents of certain countries and other cruel people the world can do without. Like the people that set a Mozambiquan man on fire because they are just xenophobic. These people exist, and would do the world a huge favor if they died. Yes.

56.) told somebody that (s)he was worthless? (and meant it.)

57.) not stopped your car to help somebody who was stranded on the road?

I’m a girl. What could I do? Ive stopped to give a stranger a lift on the way home in the snow. But I’m not stopping for potential rapists and serial killers. There was a  cop in Massachusetts who used to rape women after pulling them over. I may not stops for cops either. 

58.) been racist? 59.) made racist comments to somebody? 60.) acted rashly due to hatred of a specific race? 61.) decided that you hated a specific type of people? (stereotyped?). 62.) recommended to somebody that (s)he should commit suicide? 63.) turned the hose on a stranger? 64.) thrown water balloons at passing cars? 65.) put tacks on somebody’s chair? 66.) broken somebody’s window on purpose? 67.) beat up somebody? 68.) beat up a small child?
69.) tortured somebody in a medieval dungeon? 70.) *seriously* tortured somebody in a medieval dungeon?

71.) felt that people should stop what they were doing just to help you?

Yes, Often. Like at the bank when there are two tellers chatting and you are standing there waiting to get helped. They should stop whatever they are doing…

72.) committed a misdemeanor? 73.) gotten away with it? 74.) committed a felony? 75.) gotten away with it? 76.) poked somebody’s eye out? 77.) broken something worth over $500? 78.) broken something worth over $500 on purpose? 79.) attempted to cast a spell in order to send a person a little bit of ill-will? 80.) peed on a homeless person? 81.) shaken a baby to death? (like Louise Woodward, the British Au Pair.) 82.) broken a bottle, vase, or other glass item over somebody’s head? 83.) pushed somebody out of a boat?

84.) *really* felt that you wanted the bad guys to win in a movie?

Dexter.

85.) wanted to open Pandora’s Box, just to see what would happen? 86.) pushed somebody in a roller/ice skating rink, just so (s)he would fall down? 87.) written something mean in somebody’s yearbook (or written a mean letter to somebody), and signed it anonymously? (or signed the name of another person?) 88.) written something mean in somebody’s yearbook (or written a mean letter to somebody), and signed your name? 89.) burned somebody’s house down? (or if not a house, then a flat, trailer, cardboard box, whatever.) 90.) carried a concealed weapon? 91.) carried a concealed weapon other than the obvious?

92.) avoided somebody only so that you would not have to talk him/her?

So many many many times.

93.) decided that you were a sadist? 94.) tied up a masochist, only not to hurt them? 95.) considered that maybe Satan *did* invent Devil’s Food Cake? 96.) wanted to exclude somebody from a group, because you felt that his/her presence detracted from your own? 97.) actually excluded the person aforementioned? 98.) bitten somebody maliciously?
99.) attempted to kill yourself? 100.) taken a purity test before, and decided that you wanted a *lower* purity percentage?

Let there be darkness: a poem

Painting by Francesco Borzani

Painting by Francesco Borzani

I breathe and I live

It is but a small step towards my grave

A beautiful mirror that most may miss

Would there be a south, if there was no north

Would there be a west, if there was no east

If there was no darkness, would I know light

Would I stare in wonder at the sunset bowing to the night

Would I know love, if there was no hate

If there was no war, could I welcome peace

Would I know joy if there was no sadness

Happy are those in pain, they say

For they will see Heaven,

Happiness, an illusion

Laugh, sing, dance, and be gay

Just the absence of pain

How would life be if there was no death

Would I postpone today until eternity

Would I desire dying if there was no last breath

So today I will declare

Let there be darkness so I can embrace the light

I will befriend pain, so I know when I feel joy

You can hate me so I can find love

I will tango with death so I can live today, as if it were my last