I Write Because….

I used to do a lot of writing. When I was at school, my best and favoured subjects were the ones where I got to use long words and clever punctuation; history, English lit, anything involving a lengthy written debate. I was good at it, people liked my style.

When I left school, and then university, I never really knew what I wanted to do. If I could have chosen any career it would have been writing. Writing what, I’ve no idea, but writing something.

Occasionally I toyed with the idea of attempting some heavy duty fiction, in the way that people do when they’ve never actually attempted to put pen to paper on that pipe dream novel that’s going to make them millions. But then you start to grow up (not too much, let’s not get carried away) and realise that even if you did write a masterpiece, there’s no guarantee of it getting published. And even if it were published, there’s no guarantee it would be popular. Not many writers write because it fills the coffers.

So for a long time the only writing I did was at work. There isn’t a huge amount of scope for it, but you get the odd manual or procedure that needs to be put together. Every time I wrote something at work the enjoyment I got out of it was tinged with something like regret that the words were not on a more poetic subject and with reanimated aspirations to keep on with it and write something else.

Then in December last year I started training for a marathon. I was also partway through an essay based course at work for which I had received great feedback for my writing style, just like at school. Our running club encourages members to put together race reports, and since I was keeping my training on the down low in case it all went wrong I decided to start documenting the process with the idea that it would make a cracking race report once it was complete.

Well, I ended up with about 12 pages of work, even after editing. This was far too long to inflict on unsuspecting club mates as a race report. I pruned it as much as I could and submitted the edited version to the club website, and it got a good response. But I didn’t want to leave it at that. I’d poured myself into this piece and I thought it was pretty decent writing. Amateurish, of course, but not total rubbish.

So I started thinking about blogging. My marathon diaries had been written in an informal style that I thought might suit the blogging world, and I saw it as an interesting way to make all that work count for something and to continue my writing, developing it over time. I decided to stick predominantly with the running theme, because it’s what I spend all my free time doing and I really do love a chat about running, so I figured a nice side effect of blogging about running would be that I could get it out of my system for those who are interested to read and spend less time boring my non-running friends and family with tales of cadence and arm drive. I’m also a regular Women’s Running magazine reader, and a lot of their articles are accessible personal stories about running. I could do that, I thought, and I’m going to give it a try.

My Maratona di Roma diaries became the first few posts on my blog, duffrunning – so named because it’s both my name and what I am.

I’ve been told I’m ok at the writing part. I am less great at the running, but I am hoping my blog will help me to improve in both fields.

As a new blogger and still feeling a bit rusty on the writing front, I decided to take advantage of the WordPress courses to get some inspiration going and signed up for the Finding Everyday Inspiration course.

Amazingly, the first email I received about the course included this quote from Natalie Goldberg, in her book Writing Down the Bones:

This is the practice school of writing. Like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Some days you don’t want to run and you resist every step of the three miles, but you do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. . . . But if you run regularly, you train your mind to cut through or ignore your resistance. You just do it. And in the middle of the run, you love it. When you come to the end, you never want to stop.

Couldn’t have been a more apt quote for me and my little running blog, could it?


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