Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What is your marathon?

By W. S. Gager
One of my critic partners is training for a marathon. It is on her bucket list and she has been working hard to get in shape and be ready. The race is this weekend and I have no doubts she will accomplish the 27-mile run. Why she wants to do this, is something I will never understand.  She has been following a program that has the training mapped out for and she has been diligent about doing the runs even with two kindergarteners and a preschooler at home. On a Saturday I volunteered to bike with her as she did one of the longest runs of the program. It was something like twelve or fifteen miles. I don’t remember how long just that toward the end, my rear end was a bit sore.

I enjoyed the ride because it was at a slower pace than going with my husband who is all about the speed and cardio aspect of biking. On this ride, I paced myself to her running which was a more leisurely trek. On that ride we went down some gravel country roads to try and stay away from cars that don’t share the road well. You are probably wondering what all this has to do with writing books.

The ride gave me plenty of time to observe nature and watch ducks fly in and settle down on a pond or to listen to the sounds that cows make as they graze their way across a field. One thing that is hard to explain to non-writers is that we are never not absorbing details and descriptions (please excuse my double negative). We may never use them but we are always paying attention to the smallest of details especially in mysteries, which is my specialty. 

As we were going along we went through one remote area that had a swamp on either side of the road that in rainy periods probably spilled over. The swamp reeds rattled in the light wind and swayed a dance of seven veils to anyone who would watch. As we traversed its darker depths any noise was absorbed by the unknown making an uncomfortable silence except for the steps of my runner friend.  We had interrupted the cadence of nature and the creatures were impatient to return to their work.

I hated to talk to much to my friend as we were nearing the halfway point of the run and she was concentrating to keep her breathing in sync. I couldn’t help myself. I probably wouldn’t have mentioned this to anyone but a writing friend, because they would have had serious doubts about my sanity. “Don’t you think this would be a great place to dump a body?”

My critic runner wrote romances and usually bodies were not part of the plot. She laughed and admitted: “I usually don’t run this way when I’m by myself. It just creeps me out.” As we finished the run/ride in mostly silence, my brain was in high gear. I had plot lines and scenes forming at a rapid pace just from one small stretch of swamp. I couldn’t wait to get home and put them down.  I realized I just started my own marathon but my finish line was two little words: The End.  How is the training for your marathon going?

W.S. Gager has lived in Michigan for most of her life except when she was interviewing race car drivers or professional woman's golfers. She enjoyed the fast-paced life of a newspaper reporter until deciding to settle down and realized babies didn't adapt well to running down story details on deadline. Since then she honed her skills on other forms of writing before deciding to do what she always wanted and write mystery novels. Her main character is Mitch Malone who is an edgy crime-beat reporter single-mindedly hunting for a Pulitzer Prize. A CASE OF INFATUATION, the first in the Mitch Malone Mysteries, won the Dark Oak Contest in 2008 and nominated as a Michigan Notable Book.  A CASE OF ACCIDENTAL INTERSECTION took first place in the 2010 Public Safety Writers Contest in the unpublished category before its release. Her third book, A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES, was a finalist in the 2012 Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. A CASE OF VOLITILE DEEDS was released in 2013. She loves to hear from readers at or on her blog at


Joselyn Vaughn said...

So that's why you had to hurry home so fast...

Sorry about your bum. :-)

J Q Rose said...

Everyday life is fodder for our stories, for sure. Sounds like a special time for you. I'm pressing on to be able to write The End too, but not exactly racing...more like a snail's pace. But isn't the saying, slow and steady wins the race? Great post, Wendy. Thanks.

WS Gager said...

My bum recovered! You better run like the wind! Good luck Saturday!

WS Gager said...

Janet: it doesn't matter the speed as long as you finish! Keep pushing!

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Nice story, Wendy. Admire your friend for doing a marathon!!!