Runners have milestones, like a 5K or 50K. Writers have milestones too. The 5,000th reader visited Rite2Run this week. Sound like a lot? Literary agents say that a writer should have a following somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 visitors if they want to improve their chances of being published—10,000 PER MONTH. Based on their numbers and how long I’ve maintained this blog, I’m over 100,000 visitors short. If you think I’m discouraged, you don’t understand the mind of a marathoner.
Runners don’t become marathoners by showing up at a starting line one day and running 26.2 miles. A runner becomes a marathoner by first walking or jogging. A beginner’s first race is usually a 5K, or 3.1 miles. Many runners are happy with the 5K, and should be—it is a great achievement. Some runners go on to run a 10K, and those who still can’t get enough set their sights on longer distances like a 15K or 20K. Once a runner completes a 20K, there is no reason not to run a half-marathon. A half-marathon, or 13.1 miles, is an athletic feat only a fraction of the population will ever achieve, and most are content once the half-marathon is in the books.
Some of us, however, are not so lucky—we have to double it; we have to run 26.2. It’s like a disease, and it’s difficult to get out of your system. American poet William Carlos Williams said the same thing about writing, that “all writing is a disease.”
Some writers make a living from blogging; it’s not likely I’ll ever be one of them. Blogging is a commitment, like running a marathon. I write for magazines and am working to publish my memoir about the marathon. I am also finishing up a short story collection about the lives of blue-collar workers. I am a lifelong distance runner committed to my writing. I believe in my work, and I believe it will one day touch some readers, maybe even inspire them, make them smile, or perhaps think about their own lives.
So, am I discouraged that I’m 100,000 visitors short of a recommended literary threshold? Not a chance! And besides, any day now one of you might send Rite2Run to 100,000 of your friends.