He asked, ” What makes a man a writer?” ” Well,” I said, “it’s simple. You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge.” – Charles Bukowski
The epilogue of Twenty-four Years to Boston concludes: “I found the marathon a metaphor for life. Had I not set out to conquer the 26.2-mile challenge in 1981, I am quite certain that my story never would have found its way onto these pages.” I wrote those words more than a decade ago and they live in every word I’ve written since. The writing life requires the endurance of a marathoner, and running is central to my being, and therefore my craft.
The Boston Marathon was the logical conclusion for Twenty-four Years. Now I am working the stories I dropped from the original manuscript–experiences that include my first running award at the Bermuda International Marathon in the age 50-55 age group; placing third in my age group the same year at 10,000 elevation in the Run the Rockies Half-marathon in Frisco, Colorado; and appearing in an interview in the Philadelphia Daily News (I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that it was on page 72 next to the tire ads.)
But my next book is not all about achievements. Since I published Twenty-four Years I’ve grown as a writer, and the one thing that strikes me is that my first book was not as honest as it could have been. Oh, my story is true, but I am human so the sequel must include stories about pain and failure–failing to qualify for the 2007 Boston Marathon by less than six minutes; two knee surgeries in twelve months; rehab and coping as an aging runner. I am no saint either. I make mistakes, screw up and have done things I’m not proud of. I can only become a better writer if I am honest. As Hemingway famously said, “A writer’s job is to tell the truth,” and, “All you have to do is write one true sentence.” And then one of my favorites quotes attributed to several literary icons, “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.”
So for the next several months I’ll be hard at work on the sequel, and looking for an agent and publisher. I initially planned to call it Long May You Run after the Neil Young song, but found that there is already a running book on the market with that title. Maybe Beyond Twenty-four Years, unless another title hits me during an hour run. I’m about halfway through. It’s flowing and I don’t plan to stop until I’m done—cross the finish line with the perseverance of a marathoner.