Runity: Sunshine and Failure, Linked


Sunshine! Sunshine! Sunshine!

The cats and I could not get enough! But while they stayed inside and stalked chickadee-dee-dee-dees, I basked in the glow—it was glowing! see below!— of a real feel of 24 degrees F.

I wore my superhero shoes again and they felt wonderful. Dressing for running in the 20s is tricky, especially if you plan to walk, then run. Walking, you’re just a bit freezing; running, you burn up.

And so I wore:

  • a long-sleeved perforated base layer
  • a smushy fleece outer layer that had one of those cool cinched necks
  • hat
  • gloves
  • long socks
  • and these babies:

legsMy lumberjack running tights! I don’t know the brand because my mom bought them for me to lure me back into running (thanks, Mom!). My mom is a lifelong runner and, now in her late 70s, is still a walker. Plus, we both do Pilates at the joint around the corner. She, like me, began running in her late 20s/early 30s, while in grad school.

My mother’s running is a topic I’ll be bringing up again, here on Runity.

So mission accomplished, Mom: I felt cute!  And cute tights + sunshine is emoji-level perkiness! I had to get outdoors!

When lo, this neighborhood gang of fluffians gobbled up:


Turkeys are plentiful in my neighborhood. On one summer run, I had to move through a gang of twenty turkeys, many fully grown. That day, I learned that I am turkey-sized! And then I imagined how sad it would be to die at the claws of a gang full of turkeys. But because of all the sunshine and good eatin’ in the melting snow, they stayed on the lawns. Hope you got some good grubs, guys.

I walked 1 1/2 miles, then ran back, for a total distance of 3 miles. Along the way, I listened to a wonderful podcast about the writing process: The Fail Safe. Host Rachel Yoder has a lovely, cinnamon-y voice—a little honey, a little bourbon, and a lot of self-deprecation— and as a result, the podcast is both cozy and bracing. Each episode features Yoder talking with another writer about failure, and what they do about it during long, or short, or mistaken projects. If you are a process-geek like I am, this is a fantastic podcast. (Yoder and fellow podcast producer Mark Polanzak also founded draft: a journal of process, which lays bare the many larks of writing a finished piece.)

IMG_0421Today’s episode featured famed short story writer and working-on-it novelist Kelly Link, who shared, perhaps, the most human and writer affirming perspective I’ve heard. Side note: I had the pleasure of reading with Kelly Link a thousand years ago at the Madison Book Festival, which freaked me out, because her work is hilarious and full of charm and wonder and zombies, and I write…muted, domestic epiphanies. The most eventful thing to happen in one of my short stories is that a character thinks about doing something, but doesn’t do it.  Nevertheless, Kelly Link was gracious and lovely, and for my reading, I asked her very kind husband Gavin Grant to read as one of my story’s characters, a Frenchman, because I’m terrible with accents, and Gavin is Scottish, and once again just being in Kelly Link’s presence made me feel capable of charm and wonder.

Much as she did today, in podcast form!  In the episode, Link reframed “failure” as “opportunity” in deep and meaningful ways—and as a writer who is awful with routines and word counts and, like, actually producing pages, I was heartened by Link’s frank discussion of the times she is “not writing.” When her collections met obstacles finding a publisher, she and her husband saw an opening for other writers of hard-to-classify writing, and so they founded Small Beer Press, among other publications. Listen to this podcast,  particularly you novelists-to-be and writers who can’t figure out where to publish.

I leave you with the image of my last 1/4 mile of literally blinding sunshine:


Blaze a trail—and don’t let the turkeys get you down—

Yours in Runity,