Donna Everhart

Limping Along

Lately, I’ve been floundering in a wave of false starts on book three, limping along with a story idea that I think can work, but…I can’t seem to get it off the ground. 

I had originally started a completely different story, one that came to me more easily than this one, but, after a discussion with my agent, that has been put to the back burner.  Now, I’m trying to write something different, something that is more literary suspense than literary fiction or historic fiction.  I have a basic idea of the story, but everything I write and then read over, sounds dumb, uninteresting, too predictable, and just plain blah.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m writing it in the third person, versus first person, which is how I wrote the first two books.  Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t read suspense novels, although suspense is really a loose term that fits many different types of books.  It’s not that I’m trying to write a crime or thriller type book, but I think the word suspense is messing with my head somewhat.

In addition, my running has been sidelined with plantar fasciitis.  I tell people that’s a fancy way of saying my heel hurts – pretty bad – so I’m literally limping around the house too. 

Running has always been the way I’ve unlocked my brain when it comes to writing.  When I have a story problem that needs to be resolved, I can go on a run and most days, figure out a way to get around it – at least enough to move things forward.  Now, I can’t run.  I’ve tried to spend time on my bike, thinking I’d perhaps get a similar endorphin rush while pedaling along, but biking takes more concentration.  When coming up on a stop sign while running, you can hear a car coming, (I don’t listen to music, instead I prefer to hear nature, the sound of my own breath, and my feet hitting pavement), and I’m usually able to adjust my speed so I can just cruise on through.  Not so on a bike.  On a bike your speed is at least doubled, and you can’t hear anything with the wind whistling past your ears.  So, it requires a significant slow down, and then the build up of speed again. 

Then, there’s where I ride…for convenience, I stick to my neighborhood block, which means taking the turns to the next street…and or course you have to slow down in order to take the corners or…you skid, you risk pissing off the driver who didn’t see you, or you wipe-out.   And to get your heart pumping requires pedaling fast enough to keep your speed up, and it seems every time I look down, my speed has drifted down to the granny Googenheimer pace.

Maybe it’s me, but all this seems to require just a bit too much concentration to allow for those good old random, free flowing thoughts that typically come with running.  

So.  There it is.  My writing seems to be only limping along, as am I.  I’ve been trying to figure out ways to break out of this stagnant place I’ve landed in.  I’ve always kept stacks of books by my desk, as if I could soak up all those talented and wonderful stories and somehow unlock their secrets, figure out their way of getting past  what appears to be repeated dead ends.

What has you feeling like you’re not making any progress, and what are you doing about it?





7 thoughts on “Limping Along”

  1. Okay, first of all, sorry about your running problem. I suppose you know about arch supports. They did wonders for my heel spurs, so much so that now, years later, I don’t even need them. And “granny Googenheimer” is classic! I’m going to think that every time I’m out there listening to my feet slapping the ground. (I don’t listen to music when I run either.)

    As for writing rejuvenation, I think each of us has to figure out our own solution. I just came off of a spell of low interest in my cycle of stories (but that changed when one of them got published — suddenly they were interesting to me again). One trick that has worked for me in the past is to take my characters and put them in some completely different genre just for the writing practice. Put your characters in a western or sci fi or even, ahem, an adult story. For me this gives me new insight into them since I see how they react in new situations. Might work for you.

    1. Hi Paul – thanks so much for that advice! I did buy some inserts that were marketed for plantar fasciitis. UGH. They made it hurt worse… (it’s in my left foot only – thank God) I have “normal” arches – i.e. not too high and not flat footed. Do you still think arch supports would do the trick? I am really missing my runs. I had already laid off a month back in mid Jan to mid Feb – and the pain had completely disappeared. But, when I went out and ran a short run (usually I avg 4 miles 5 days a week), I didn’t push my pace – and went about two miles, but honestly, it was like I’d never laid off at all. Since then, I’ve had a day here, and there when the pain would be gone, and I’d try, but, soon as I finish, my heel throbs for days. At this point it will be two weeks on Wed since I’ve run and I can’t tell it’s getting any better at all…quite frustrating.

      I love this idea of placing characters into different genres. I’ll have to give that a go…although I did have a bit of a breakthrough yesterday on some parts of the story.

      1. Oh, and Paul, I also meant to say…congratulations on your story publication! (funny how something positive like that can make all the difference in the world…)

  2. Donna, I saw a podiatrist for my heel spurs back in the day. He made me some $500 arch supports and had me taking something like 12 Advils a day. The arch supports eventually broke (I was much heavier then), and I went to store-bought supports (though I went to a cobbler for them since they needed to be made of plastic rather than merely foam – brand name of Spenco). They’ve held up much longer than the expensive ones, and I still wear them in my dress shoes and hiking boots, but I don’t run in them. And I can remember telling the podiatrist when I first started using the supports that I felt I was “being violated” every time I put my shoes on. But that only lasted about two weeks. Eventually I got used to them, and eventually the heel pain went away. Even the just-getting-out-of-bed heel pain went away, but that took longer.

    Is it time for new running shoes? Conventional wisdom says that most runners should only try to get 300-500 miles out of a pair. After that, the treads are worn and the support is flattened. I’m on my third pair in just 14 months (but I’m on a 1,000 mile challenge this year — must be some latent OCD I didn’t realize I had). I had some ankle pain in January, and about a week after I got my newest pair of kicks (Brooks for me), the pain went away. I’ve really come to believe in having the right tool for the right job, at least in running.

    Also, are you on Nike+ or Daily Mile? We could be online buddies.

    Yeah, I’m pretty proud of my story getting placed. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

    1. Funny – “being violated” every time you put your shoes on! LOL! But, I know what you mean – even those cheapies I bought felt like that. The getting out of bed pain IS the worst. I am good about my shoes – having learned my lesson the hard way (double stress fx in the tibia that took a really long time to heal) So, now I buy two pairs at a time and switch up. I just bought two new pairs before this injury sidelined me. I run in Asics -Gel Kayano.

      I have the Garmin Forerunner 405 – I did have Nike+ at one time…but saw the Garmin and all the bells/whistles – had to have it. Know how I use it? Mostly for time only. Go figure eh? Although I do run against the Virtual Partner – love that, though I have cussed it a few times when it’s ahead.

  3. Shit comes in waves. Right now I’m making progress. I like T. Jefferson Parker’s idea of outlining. He begins a project by a 30,000 word version of the story, an outline. Completing the story forces you to make choices. Some times a nee character or direction will pop up.

    1. Hi J.D., it’s been a while… I’m glad your work is coming along. When will your book be out?

      T. Jefferson Parker…I’m not familiar with that name, but it sounds like a good idea. I also (at her generous invite) picked our buddy’s brain (Averil). She tossed out some great ideas w/the synopsis I had so far. That, and your idea to lay it out in a shorter fashion ought to be the kick I need. Then there’s “allow yourself to write badly.” And the old standby of 1,000 wpd – even if they stink as well.

      Good to hear from you!

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