Man Plans and God Laughs

I began this blog one year ago, in part, to promote a memoir I had written about the marathon, Twenty-four Years to Boston. During the process I learned two invaluable lessons: 

·         Writing a memoir takes as much endurance as running a marathon

And a more humbling lesson: 

·         Publishing a memoir requires the persistence, tenacity and single-minded focus of completing an ultra-marathon.  

Running a marathon is good training for any writer who aspires to write and publish a book because they both require perseverance and iron will. The marathoners’ axiom is, “Twenty miles of hope and six miles of truth.” The six miles of truth is the ultimate teacher—it forces a runner to look within and find what they are made of.

As a twelve-time marathoner and writer, I compare writing a book to the twenty miles of hope, and publishing it to the six miles of truth. In my memoir I’d written that the twenty-mile mark is the stage of the marathon where all of the training will get most runners, but training alone doesn’t prepare a runner for the final six miles.

I had passed through the twenty miles of hope a dozen times and found that sticking it out through life’s toughest challenges was psychological conditioning for the final six miles. The mental tenacity required to push through a grueling endurance race is garnered from handling adversity and persevering through long hours of work, sick children, broken down cars, aloof teachers, sick pets, bad jobs, business travel, broken bones and lousy bosses. A training program may get a runner to mile twenty, but after beating your body into oblivion for hours, mental toughness gets you through those six miles of truth.

Writing is hard work and publishing is a brutally competitive business. Agents and publishers aren’t eager to take risks with an unpublished author, unless the writer possesses incredible talent, an irresistible voice or has a unique and compelling idea. An aspiring author can’t be sensitive to rejection—it’s part of the territory. That is especially true for a new author. I’d queried over forty agents and publisher and had my share of rejections. Several have requested either a formal proposal, sample chapters or the entire manuscript. So I wait, I write and I continue on with my business. I am undeterred.

I’m into the six miles of truth-juncture with Twenty-four Years to Boston, and marathoners don’t stop until they cross the finish line.

The finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Read the Chapter Summaries of Twenty-four Years to Boston.

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About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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