For almost 3 decades I yearned to get published.
I thought that publication was the finish line.
It's only the middle of the marathon.
And though I’ve never completed a marathon, I think the middle of any journey is a hard place to be. In the beginning, there is always the option to turn around, to say, “Just kidding! I didn’t really want to do this! Glad for the t-shirt and the experience. But… nope!”
If you reach the middle, it means you have committed to the journey. You set out to do this hard thing, and you actually got far enough along that people can point to you and say, “Hey, that person is running a marathon/writes books.”
The middle is the place where the world sees your efforts. You care enough about this hard thing to train and dedicate free time-maybe even full time-to this pursuit. It is also the place where doubts enter anew. Other runners/writers are whizzing past in their super-fit strides. If your trajectory isn’t fast enough, you may start to doubt yourself, your preparation, and your natural ability to perform well. More than ever, you may want to stop and say, “I could have done better but my knee is acting up/I have writer’s block. I’ll sit this one out and try again someday soon.” There is no shame in this decision. Sometimes a break allows us to regroup, retrain, and perform even better.
But for those in the middle of the marathon that haven’t stopped, and haven’t zoomed ahead, you are the brave ones that inspire me. Writers and illustrators that show up regularly to their workspaces to make art, even when it’s not working out so well-but do it anyway-you are my heroes. You are the ones that show me that the book-writing marathon is about endurance and stamina. Recognition and medals are fabulous. And seeing other people receive them is complicated. You may genuinely care for the people receiving an award, and their long journey to get there. But you may also be tempted to feel like their win is your loss.
Their win is their win. Your win is around the corner. And unlike a running race, a writer can zoom to the front of the line with one stellar work of art.
You may also redefine your “win” from the middle of the marathon. Maybe your win is unpublished work that exceeds your artistic expectations. Maybe your win is connecting to one special reader whose response makes the whole damn journey (and tears) absolutely worth it. Maybe your “win” is not stopping, no matter what.
What’s your “win”?
Written by Barbara DiLorenzoTortoise and the Hare Illustration by Barbara DiLorenzo