Yesterday was the 116th Boston Marathon, one of my favorite sporting events. I like running, but I’m certainly not a competitive runner, so aside from general amazement that people can actually run 26.2 miles in less than 2.5 hours (seriously?!?!), I don’t love the marathon because I follow the running world that closely. I like the marathon because it lets me cheer for strangers.
Cheering for strangers isn’t usually something you get to do during the day. If you tell someone “Yeah, rock that hat! Way to go, Hatman!” on public transportation, you look like a weirdo. But at the marathon, you can stand by the course and cheer for everyone as they go by. Not just the elite runners, either, but people who trained hard for the race and are either trying for a personal best or just trying to finish. It can be so much fun to shout “Good job, Lily!” or “Way to go, #242!” as they run by. And I think runners appreciate the enthusiasm. Sometimes runners will smile and wave back, or even run by for a high five. With other sporting events, often times you’re rooting for a particular person or team. At the marathon, you can cheer for everyone.
In a similar vein, writers are often in it for the long haul. Even if you write picture books, you’re still constantly in the process of creating and revising. Writers also deal with a lot of setbacks–rejections, trying to balance writing, work, and life, etc. It’s a long haul toward literary success. And even if you are successful, it’s still a lot of work. (JK Rowling still had to write the novels, even if she was super rich and famous by the halfway point.)
One thing I like about the literary community is that people are generally very encouraging of each other. Even if you’re in the middle of your own writing marathon, it can be really nice to reach out to other people who are working hard as well. The internet is a great place to cheer for people without looking like a weirdo on the bus. A comment on a blog post or a tweet at someone might not seem like much, but it can foster a sense of community and help that person over a writing hurdle.
If you’re feeling especially athletic/literary, Writerly Life also has a great post relating the marathon to writing.
(image: Reuters/Dominick Reuter)