John “The Penguin” Bingham, a well-known motivational speaker who’s run over 40 marathons, often talks about hitting that point in your marathon known as the “bite me” mile. It’s exactly what it sounds like: it’s the mile at which you hit the proverbial wall and any unfortunate soul who may come up to you and ask you questions, offer you encouragement, or just generally try to provide some distraction will simply be met with a terse (yet intense), “Bite me.”
It usually comes late in the marathon: mile 20 or 22 (although for me, it seems to come earlier, at mile 15 or 16!). You’re tired, you’re cranky, and you’re wondering what in the world ever possessed you to take on this challenge in the first place. You also vow to yourself to never, ever again do anything so insane as to willingly choose to run 26.2 miles.
But you know what? You get through it. You fight through the fatigue (“Just keep downing those energy gels even though they make you nauseous!”), you make deals with yourself (“Just run to that lamp post, and then you can walk for a minute!”), you give yourself pep talks (“Only 5K more to go — you’ve done that hundreds of times!”). You do whatever it takes, even if it means crawling across that finish line.
Well lo and behold, I’ve discovered there is the writing equivalent to the “bite me” mile. I will henceforth coin it the “bite me” chapter.
I’m currently hard at work on Chapter 22 of the first draft for my WIP. I’m in the home stretch — only 10 more chapters to go at this point. I’ve breezed through (relatively speaking) the first 21 chapters in 4 months and was on track to finish the draft in just under 6 months.
Until I hit the “bite me” chapter. This chapter is proving to be the most stubborn, most difficult to extract from my head and get down onto paper (er… screen). And it’s not for lack of knowing what’s supposed to happen in it, either — I’ve got it all outlined to the nth degree, as a matter of fact. But my inner critic somehow got out of her cage and has been running amok, holding my brain hostage until all it can dole out are a few sentences here and there.
It’s no coincidence that this comes at the 3/4 mark of the story. Just as in a marathon, by the time I hit the 3/4 mark, I’m pretty much over it. I’m ready to be done, I’m ready to get my medal and feast on a cheeseburger to replenish all those calories I just torched. And while I LOVE this story to pieces and don’t have quite the same eagerness to be done with it as I would with a marathon, I am struggling in a very similar way.
I’ve taken to calling on those same tricks. Fighting the fatigue. Making deals with myself. Giving myself those motivational speeches. Anything to get me to the finish line, because I am so close and I want so badly to share this with the world already. Can’t do that until I finish the final draft, and I can’t finish that until I finish the first one.
So here I am: walking, limping, crawling, and occasionally jogging. But I will get there. This much I know.