On the 4th of July I met with all the Stewarts for the annual Stewart Family Gathering. We were in Utah and my youngest uncle (just a few years my senior) and his wife (same age as my husband–that’s a big Mormon family for ya) and a cousin (just a couple of years older than my oldest son) were going to Provo for the Freedom Run 5K.

Now, I did the Freedom Run 5k last year, and my dad reminded me that after it was over I vowed it was the last steps I’d take at an accelerated pace in my life.

That was a lie, it turns out. I’ve actually been trying to keep up with my running since then. (Me! The girl who hid in the back of Mary Bingham’s Oldsmobile during the track meet to avoid having to run 100 meters.) Bowing to pressure from the real runners, I signed up. My main goal was to not be *slower* than I was last year.

Yippee! Goal met. I shaved 2 minutes off my run time from last year, which isn’t much at all, as I was just one bracket higher than the “walking pace” people and those pushing wheeled vehicles. Yes, strollers did pass me by. Whatever! And no, I’ve never experienced a runner’s high, and I finally realized why: it’s because they call it a runner’s high, not a jogger’s high. My speed can barely be considered jogging.

Anyway, there’s a writing lesson I’m taking from all this. I’d gotten a little bummed about my working manuscript. I’m going back through to edit it and generally make it less of a chaotic mess. But each successive rewrite might only shave two minutes off its time–e.g., make it 10% better. That’s okay. The point is, it may be incremental improvement but it’s moving in the right direction and I haven’t quit running. I believe in this project, and I’m going to wrestle it into readability.

I’ve heard it said that just the act of *finishing* that novel puts a writer in a better position than 95% of other writers. I’m not in some competition with other writers. Like in that Freedom Run I’m only in competition with myself. I’m just hoping each successive edit is better than the last, and that each novel is better than its predecessor. Improvement. That’s what what I’m aiming for.

Oh, and I did like getting the cool, spinny “finisher” keychain. I should make myself one for when I finish this novel. Maybe everyone who finishes should.

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