“A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.” – Will Rogers
My sweet, supportive friend Melissa Corbin invited me to participate in the “Writing Process Blog Tour.” Melissa is a Nashville food writer and consultant who develops and manages social media content for restaurants and artisans. Her blog, Corbin in the Dell, features stories about her life with food – from growing up in a farm family to gardening, cooking, and interacting with local food artisans. Check her out at http://www.corbininthedell.com/ and I guarantee she will inspire you to venture into your kitchen to whip up something tasty.
At first, I was thrilled that my well-connected, social-media savvy friend thought of me.
Then I realized that, as part of this “Tour”, I’d have to invite 3 other bloggers to participate and remembered that I am not well-connected or social-media savvy. I started to hyperventilate.
But I didn’t want insecurity to stand in the way of a great opportunity.
What should I do?
Once I stopped panicking, I took a few deep breaths and invited my 3 favorite bloggers (other than Melissa), whether I knew them or not. Normally, that would be WAY out of my introverted comfort zone, but one of the unexpected benefits of my blog is that it pushes me out of that comfort zone. So far, that’s been a very good thing.
Each of the bloggers I invited writes about different topics, but they share similarities that draw me in:
1. Their blogs all look professional. I rolled my blog out quickly (before I could talk myself out of it). My Decade of Running is a mess of a blog and I admit it.
2. They are all smart, interesting people and it comes through in their writing. You want to know them for real.
3. They are all brutally honest. Reading a blog where someone bares their soul helps build a connection with the reader, but it’s one of the elements of blogging I struggle with.
I’m still shaking my head in disbelief that they accepted my invitation. It’s like inviting 3 famous, talented athletes or musicians to teach you how to play a sport or an instrument and all of them saying “Sure, why not?” Humbling.
For the “Writing Process Blog Tour” I was asked to answer 4 questions:
What am I working on?
I’m working on a story about the upcoming Color Me Rad 5K, which will be my first “color” 5K. Friends have been inviting me to run one of these events since they came to Nashville and I’ve turned them down until now. It’s another example of how my blog pushes me to try new experiences. I haven’t done one of these events sooner because the idea of running while people throw stuff at me gives me scary flashbacks to playing dodgeball back at Elden Elementary. But even if the Color Me Rad 5K is lame (which I doubt), it should give me something to write about.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
My blog differs from others because of my life experience. Most running blogs I see are written by either gifted runners or people who used running as a weight loss tool. Both are inspiring to me, but I’m not a gifted runner (or even particularly athletic) and I wasn’t overweight when I started running. What I am is a very average woman who has been running regularly for 10 years. Over those 10 years, I’ve experienced life challenges and running helped me navigate those challenges.
I’ve had a lot of great experiences running and get excited about sharing them. Running introduced me to interesting people, provided rewarding experiences and best of all, changed the way I view myself.
Why do I write about what I do?
Because running changed my life. Before I discovered running, I was an unathletic kid (and adult). People who’ve known me for a long time are shocked to find out I’m a runner now. Because of my background and experience, I passionately believe exercise is accessible to everyone, if they can find an activity they enjoy.
How does your writing process work?
Ideas come to me when I’m running, gardening, driving, or even drying my hair. I jot down notes on my iPhone or iPad and collect material I find on the internet or in magazines. For me, writing is 75% thinking and 25% writing. After I’ve thought an idea through and have time to write, I pull out my iPad and start typing. Sometimes as I type, the stories take an expected turn, which is a nice surprise. Once I get my thoughts down, I edit. If something doesn’t add to the post, whether it’s a word, a sentence or a paragraph, it gets chopped.
Joanna Montgomery’s blog is Hello JoMo. Her stories are also online on The Stir and Huffington Post. I worked with Joanna many years ago. Back then, my impression of Joanna was that she was ambitious, smart, and sarcastic. Frankly, I found her intimidating. But working with her on a project, I learned that she was also thoughtful and caring.
While I was undergoing my cancer surgeries, I heard about an acquaintance whose wife was diagnosed with Stage C-III fallopian tube cancer after undergoing an emergency C-section. My co-workers followed the wife’s blog but I was too preoccupied at the time to check it out for myself. One day, I was standing in front of my co-worker’s computer and got my first chance to look at the wife’s blog. I was shocked to realize I knew this woman – it was Joanna.
Joanna writes about her roller coaster life of finding a smart, creative, loving man to share her life with and giving birth to a perfect, beautiful baby, while batting the monster that is cancer. She tackles the aspects of living with cancer everyone else seems scared to talk about and writes about her experiences and feelings with such honesty it takes my breath away.
Last summer I got to hang out with Joanna, our husbands and mutual friends for dinner and the Hall & Oates show at the Ryman. It was a lively evening filled with stories, laughter and great music.
Joanna is a rock star blogger, who inspires me to be brave and live in the moment. Check her out at http://hellojomo.com/
I’ve met Mike Tarrolly, of Crushing Iron, but don’t really know him. Mike is one of the biggest success stories of the East Nasty Potato to Tomato couch to 5K training. He participated a few years ago and really took off from there, thanks to a mixture of talent and tenacity. He’s now an Ironman triathlete. If you aren’t familiar with the Ironman triathlon events, that means he swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles – on purpose.
Mike writes about the mental, as well as physical aspects of his triathlon training. His stories are both funny (“My 5K Face Off With Dr. Oz”) and meaningful (“Why Triathlon Is So Important To Me”). He’s another blogger who puts it all out there.
Mike is an Ironman blogger who inspires me to challenge myself physically and mentally. Check Mike out at: http://crushingiron.com/
I’ve never met Tracy McGraw, but a mutual friend told me about her blog Running Into The Light. Inviting Tracey was stalkerish, but we share several mutual friends – hopefully one of them can tell her I’m harmless.
Tracey’s blog began as a running blog because of her background as a runner and running coach, but evolved into a running/life blog. While you can tell the past few years have been challenging for her, you cheer for Tracey because she’s working hard to make positive changes. I know great things are ahead for her.
Tracey is an inspirational blogger who inspires me to ask myself the tough questions I tend to avoid. Check her out at: http://runningintothelight.com/
I didn’t start blogging because I think I’m a great writer. I started blogging to practice writing and become a better writer. From running, I know great things can be achieved through practice.
I’m also learning about writing from reading other writers I admire, including Joanna, Mike and Tracey. I’m careful not to copy their “voice,” as part of this process is learning to rediscover my own.
They all show me I should be more honest in my writing. Not that what I write isn’t truthful – it is. But I think I’m guilty of holding back. What’s holding me back?
Fear of judgment.
Fear that people will think I’m narcissistic.
Fear that people will think I’m boring.
Fear that people will think I’m a crappy writer.
Fear that people won’t like me.
Then I realize that I don’t think any of those things about Joanna, Mike or Tracey. I’m fascinated by their experiences and their stories – I don’t judge them.
And I remember that the people who bother to read my stories are my family and friends, who love me.
Thank you for reading without judgment.
I’ll keep on writing.