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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Fighting through the bite me mile

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.

 

Painful.

 

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.

 

Sometimes 1K to go can feel unbearably long--and there's just no getting through the "bite me" moment other than to grit your teeth and bear it

Sometimes 1K to go can feel unbearably long–and there’s just no getting through the “bite me” moment other than to grit your teeth and bear it

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What a tease…

Another excerpt I wanted to share… This bit actually comes a little earlier in the story than the last excerpt, but is another pivotal moment.

Does it intrigue you? 🙂

Movement came from the front of the house, a dark shape that stepped out, stopped, then ducked out of the passing spotlight, rising again when the light swept past and moved on to the next block of issues. Ryla seized her opportunity and ran out from behind her hiding place, coming up right behind him and clamping her hand over his mouth just before he straightened to full height, absorbing his scream.

“It’s me,” she whispered. By her estimate, she’d been only seconds away from him biting into her hand. He jerked in her arms—a natural reaction—then turned his head and peeled her hand off.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing-”

“Shh… They’re about to come back.” 

The spotlight pivoted again. Instinctively, they both ducked down, flattening to the ground. Leftover snow melted beneath them. She felt it soak into her jacket, sending a shiver up her spine. Tyson lifted his head, but Ryla didn’t need to look up to know the officers who were patrolling the compound were coming around the bend, their footsteps crunching on the slush that blanketed the pavement.

One… Two… Three…

Twenty should about do it. Ryla kept time in her head, then heard the footsteps fade. Tyson had already pushed himself off the ground and offered her his hand. 

“You could have gotten both of us arrested,” he hissed. “How did you even…” He shook his head. “You know what, never mind. I don’t want to know.”

“Tyson-”

“You can’t be here.”

“Just listen…”

“What are you doing here, anyway? You made yourself pretty clear this morning-”

“Would you shut up for a second??”

He fell silent, staring at her in the pale, silvery moonlight. 

“You were right.”

“What?”

“I came back because… you were right. About everything.”

 

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An excerpt…

Working on a first draft is a lonely endeavor. It takes years before you finally get to the stage where your WIP is ready to see the light of day and be shared with others, and in the meantime, you’re bursting at the seams because you are so in love with this world and its people and you wish you could share it with the whole world now.

Patience, grasshopper. The time will come eventually.

In the meantime, I would like to share a little tidbit, just to whet the appetite… Here’s a snippet from a scene in the middle of the book:

Ambulances collected in the runways—they were rarely ever used these days, of course, with nearly all of the battle simulations done virtually in the holo chambers—but today, they were crowded, already clogged with the dozens of fighter jets that had crashed in today’s ill-fated mock air raid before the doctors ever arrived on the scene, raising the level of chaos as soon as they began streaming out of transports to sift through the debris and wreckage strewn all around in the surrounding airfield. 

Hoping to find survivors.

Fire had bloomed and raged, taking their anger to the skies. Alanna had seen it from miles away as they approached the downed jets. Firefighters managed to put it out before any of the rescue teams arrived, but smoke still rose from the charred, mangled pieces that lay scattered haphazardly on the ground, like a child’s toys after a long session of play. The toxic stench of burnt acid clung in the air, thick and potent; she thought she might vomit from the smell of it, her lungs protesting each gulp with a cough that couldn’t expel the corrupted air from her body soon enough. The grass glistened with splatters of blood, torn bits of clothing.  Severed limbs. She swallowed hard, forcing the down the lump that had lodged itself in her throat. The last thing she needed was to lose her composure. She was here to do her job and make sure people got the care they needed. She couldn’t do that if she let her emotions get the best of her.

But it was hard to keep the panic from mingling with adrenalin when she’d yet to see any sign of Owen amongst the people being pulled out of the smoldering pieces of twisted metal.

 

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