I’ve compared my daily writing challenge to marathon training, each day closer to completing my metaphoric 26.2-mile run. Today it dawned on me, though, how runners train all year and get to have a grand finale, the main event: the race. On the last day of my writing marathon, I will just have another essay. It won’t be my opus essay. It will simply be the final one in the project.
“Can I celebrate yet?” I think to myself and as much as I want to, there are 20 days left; 20 more essays. 20 more opportunities to write something someone can relate to. This is 346, equal to 24.8 miles of my marathon.
The year is coming to a close and I’m not reviewing the year which was, that’s documented forever in bits and bytes on the Internet and my computer (and backed up in the cloud, I gather). I’m reading other people discuss the resolutions they took on and ones they’re considering and I secretly already consider myself a success. I mean it’s not 365 yet (which incidentally will be 366 because leap year) but as we’re in the second part of December, I’m seeing the light.
I think back to January and how long the road seemed to stretch in front of me. Each night writing was a bit of a challenge; the tears were more frequent. As the year went on, I had less time to engage “how I felt” about it and just knew I had to finish the job.
My high school freshman son told his class about my project and his friends reacted with ooh’s and ah’s. For them, just one essay is a chore. How much work they’ll put into their college admission essay in a few years and yet I feel like a machine. Give me a topic and I’ll write. This is what 346 days of crafting stories every day will do.
My 6-year-old daughter told me she was so proud of me for doing my project and it felt like gold coins falling from a buzzing slot machine.
Alongside my “Life Clubs” project, I have also been keeping an off-line journal of my “lessons learned” throughout the project. This is my book within a book, the goody bag after the party.
“I have to compile my project” I begin to tell my sister this morning. “I have to pick the best essays, rewrite them better since none got more than a day’s work, create chapters, and insert the “lessons learned” between the essays. It’ll be part memoir, part self-help book, part tattle tale on my parents. In my book of Life Clubs, everyone will be able to find themselves members of one or several clubs. We were all born and we’re all dying, for starters.
“After December 31st,” my sister says, “you’ve earned a rest. Take a few weeks to process and breathe. Then you can compile.”
Writing every single day seemed like a daunting challenge. I swore if I did it, I’d get a tattoo and celebrate. Now, with less than three weeks left, I’m back to my old ways; judging before it’s done, negating its worth. I have to perfect the work, put it in perfect presentable publishable form.
I have to … and … and… and my list never ends; it never does. As long as I’m breathing, I’m thinking, I’m writing. In 20 days, I’m fucking celebrating.