On Running, And Writing, And How A Little Becomes A Lot

On Running, And Writing, And How A Little Becomes A Lot

In high school, I could barely run The Mile.

(I capitalize it because it was always exactly that — not a mile, but rather, The Mile, part of some wifty health assessment thing that chose to test how fast kids could run The Mile, usually while a gym teacher buzzed alongside you in a fucking golfcart.)

I had what was once called ‘growing pains,’ or ‘knobby knees,’ or more properly diagnosed, Osgood-Schlatter, which sounds maybe like some fancy chocolate or a Nazi that Indiana Jones punched. Basically, it pushes out part of your knee just below the cap, so you get this elbow-like protrusion there. It hurts. You can use it as a gym class excuse. So you bet your ass I used it as a gym class excuse. (I of course sat off to the side and read books. I know, it’s a little on-the-fucking-nose.) As a result, I generally did not have to complete The Dreaded Mile.

I added that word, Dreaded, because it was awful. All that slogging and running. Most kids looked like they were dying. Running laps around the soccer field. Wet and sweaty. Some kind of teenage death march. A YA novel waiting to happen: a teen version of Stephen King’s The Long Walk.

Eventually, the Osgood-Schlatter faded. The knobby-ish knees remained, but without pain (mostly). And I just chalked it up as: hey, running is stupid. Nobody should run. I biked here and there, that seemed nice, and I was able to tell myself: ha ha, people who run are dumb, at least a bicycle gets you somewhere. And I of course internalized all the supposed evidence that running was bad for you anyway, and that runners were chumps. Suck it, chumps. Destroy those knees, dipshits. Oh, oh, what’s that? Hamstring pull? Shin splints? Suckers.

I’LL NEVER BE ONE OF YOU, I trumpeted to the skies from my bicycle, which is to say, from my couch, while playing video games probably. NEVER SHALL I BE A RUNNER.

And then I had a kid.

* * *

Life, you’ll note, presents you with certain crisis points. I don’t necessarily mean crisis points like OH SHIT A DRAGON or OH FUCK THERE’S A GUNSHIP HELICOPTER CHASING ME or I CAN’T DECIDE IF I WANT TACOS TONIGHT OR PIZZA OH FUCKING SHIT THIS IS A REAL FUCKING CRISIS, DAVE. I just mean, life sometimes hip-checks you up to a cliff’s edge, where it forces you to either summon the wherewithal to jump or walk back from the precipice. Neither being a wrong decision, mind you — but one requires you to screw your courage to the sticking place, and the other has you err on the side of caution, and at times, cowardice.

Jump or walk.

Fuck or run.

Shit or get off the bucket.

Writing was like this for me, at various points.

I wanted to be a writer for a very long time. Junior high cemented it, and I never really let go of that dream, a dog with a favorite toy clamped in his teeth. But out of college you start taking on jobs that seem to get you further and further from the dream, right? And you get busy. And you don’t have as much time to write. And it’s like realizing, oops, you dropped the toy and now you’re sitting there, watching that beloved toy drift farther downstream. And if you don’t jump in and get wet, you may never get that toy back. I hit a point where it became, do I want to do this or not? How will I manage it? I had to start setting up some kind of plan. I didn’t need a fucking spreadsheet or checklist or anything, I just had to take it seriously enough to sequester for myself some time and space to write. Even nested in other jobs. I had to say, I’ll write in the morning before work, or I’ll write at lunch. Or I’ll secretly write at work, meaning I was kinda double-dipping I know I know you’re not supposed to do that shut up I did it anyway. I’d steal time and write a hundred words here and there. Not necessarily to write things To Sell, but simply to write — to practice, to get better, to figure it the fuck out. A little bit here, a little bit there. It added up. It led to a freelance career in gaming.

And the crisis point came again when I had taken on so much freelance work that I either had to stop taking on new freelance work or quit my day job. And another crisis point came when I had to decide to quit freelancing in order to write a proper goddamn novel. (I couldn’t do both, it turned out. I tried, many times, but I couldn’t split my focus and exercise what turned out to be two very different sets of creative muscles.) Each time I found a way to close my eyes, hold my nose, and jump.

I figured out how to figure it out.

A little bit at a time.

* * *

So.

As it happens with kids, they do their own kind of Pokemon evolution, where one day they’re potatoes who move like potatoes move, which is to say, not at all. And then they’re caterpillars. And then they’re the walking dead. And then they’re Usain Bolt, sprinting at top speed toward the sharp corner of that coffee table you didn’t babyproof, you asshole. NOBODY NEEDS GLASS-TOP COFFEE TABLES WHEN YOU HAVE CHILDREN. PUT THAT AWAY. IT’S ALSO VERY DATED, TO BE HONEST. YOU HAVE KIDS NOW, YOU NEED A COFFEE TABLE MADE OF SOFT EARTH AND BAGS OF BIG-SIZE MARSHMALLOWS.

Our child, the Childe B-Dub, started walking at eight months, and started running at eight-months-and-one-day, and it became immediately clear that he was evolving much faster than I’d have liked. (As I have noted in the past, every day with a kid is like that scene in Jurassic Park where the velociraptors learn to open doors.) It also became clear that before too long, he was going to easily get away from me. I envisioned the day when he decided he was going to bolt at top-speed toward a busy road, or a wood-chipper, or some kind of elk-fighting arena… and I wouldn’t be able to catch him. It wasn’t just his speed. It was his sustained effort. The kid must’ve eaten a bunch of 9-volt batteries because he was the Energizer Bunny. He could go and go and go and go. I could sprint for about *checks watch* six seconds, at which point I would have to concede his fate to the elk arena.

So: crisis point.

I either had to get in shape —

*shudder*

— or I had to expect my two-year-old was going to run into the woods and be gone forever.

I chose to try to catch him.

Which meant I had to learn how to run.

* * *

A few things, right out of the gate, you need to know:

Running is theoretically autonomous — we know how to do it from an early age, as evidenced by my child. But you should learn to run correctly, and sometimes learning to run correctly means first learning to run incorrectly — which is to say, figuring out why your shins hurt, or you have plantar fasciitis, or why running at this time is worse than running at that time, or why “these old hobo wingtips” do not make good running shoes.

The other thing is, you can go running, but you won’t necessarily be able to do it well, or for long, or in a way that doesn’t look like a sack of wrenches rolling cartoonishly down a hill.

This is especially true if you start this journey not in your teenage years, but rather, your late 30s.

So, I did something that seemed lazy at the time: I said, I’m going to start running, and I’m not going to set any expectations of distance, speed, or form. I’m going to run however far I can run without feeling like I’m dying, and that will be my finish line — and my ongoing benchmark. I will run that far as often as I can. And that’s it. I don’t need to be an expert. I don’t need to be a marathon runner who lubes his nipples so they don’t bleed through his shirt.

I just need to not die while chasing my Speed Force toddler.

See, we have a tendency sometimes to really, really want to push. We are trained that way across our various disciplines: push harder, push faster, push farther and further, PUSH LIKE YOU’RE POOPING, someone yells (okay, nobody really says that). We are invited and expected to go beyond our limits because that is how you extend those limits. And that’s true, to a point: but it also sets for us false expectations right from the word “go.” We believe however far we go isn’t far enough. We expect that there is, in fact, never ‘enough.’ We begin already by losing, by creating unreachable limits. And this is why, often in creative fields, so many people fail out of the gate — we have a vision in our heads of THE MASTERPIECE WE MUST IMMEDIATELY COMPLETE and so we endure a miserable regimen of work where it feels like some artistic version of Xeno’s Paradox: we can never truly cross the distance and be satisfied. Our goal, forever out of reach.

I didn’t want to do that with running.

I knew myself then, and know myself now.

I knew if I pushed too hard, too fast, I’d fucking hate it so bad I’d be done in a week.

So, I said, be gentle with myself. Be kind. Expect that I am going to be super shitty at this.

I said, I will do a little. Not a lot. Just a little.

And that first day, I ran… I think maybe a quarter-mile. It felt like dying. I’d heard tales of the runner’s high, but this was not that: this was a runner’s low, a sprinter’s nadir, a jogger’s lament in the deepest sweat-slick oubliette. And what I did there wasn’t even running, not really. It was a kind of gallumphing, a dead-armed horse-clop where my burning feet and numb-fucked legs somehow juggled my jiggling body forward until I had to stop.

It would’ve been really easy to feel bad about this. Not just about how bad it literally felt, but about how unsuccessful I was. A quarter-mile isn’t… actually that much. It’s like, 1,320 feet. Roughly a run down and back up our driveway. But I chose to accept that this was a good outcome. I’d never really run in a concerted way. This was a success. Honestly anything more than 50 feet was a success.

So, I set it: a quarter-mile benchmark.

And what happened next, happened pretty fast.

By the following week, I still set my quarter-mile benchmark, but I was no longer running a quarter-mile. I was running a half-mile, semi-reliably. And then, three-quarters of a mile. And maybe after a month, I dinged a level-up: I completed a motherfucking mile.

And still I didn’t change my benchmark. I told myself, I’m going to be happy if I get out there and fumble my way for a quarter-mile. If I do that, I can stop. Truth is, sometimes I still did that. Sometimes I still hit that quarter-mile and I was like, yeah, no, nope, it’s humid, my glasses are sweatily oozing down the bridge of my nose, my legs hurt, my taint is lava hot and I don’t recall my taint getting that hot before, and fuck this shit, fuck all this shit right now.

But that was not the norm.

The norm was, I hit my benchmark and said, I feel pretty okay, I’m gonna push a little more. I never said, “I’m going for the full monty, the big damn mile.” I just said, “I can do more.”

And I did more, until I couldn’t.

* * *

And that, as it turns out, ends up being a pretty good method for how I do things. Writing, running, and honestly, most everything: I set a low benchmark, an easy-and-not-too-low-limbo-pole under which I can shimmy, and then I end up doing more. Then I do more, until I can’t.

Here’s how that’s true in writing:

When I started, I’d tell myself I’d write a page. Just one little page. Often handwritten.

We had a notebook we passed around school, a big sort of mash-up fan-fic universe, and it was largely that, as a rule: you gotta try to write a page. You could, of course, write more, and inevitably, we did. And when it came time to freelance, and the metric was less about pages and more about word count, I set a low word count, too: 500 words, just crank out 500 fucking words and don’t die.

Of course, I’d end up writing more.

And as time went on, and I became more professional (“professional”), I was able to comfortably adjust the benchmark, letting it drift upward. The 500-word basement became 1000 words, and eventually, 2000. The same thing happened in running — my quarter-mile drifted up, a bit at a time, until now it’s comfortably a mile. I can run a mile every fucking time. I never don’t run a mile. And I say to myself, once I’ve run the mile? I am free to go. I am accountable to no one. I couldn’t run a mile ten years ago. Good job. High-five. Gold medal. Fuck off.

But I often run two.

Once in a while, I run three.

(I’ve never run more than three.)

(But I did do a three-mile run twice this past week. A first for me!)

In writing, I say I’m gonna write 2k, but sometimes, it’s 3k, and on rare days, I really bring it home with 5k or more. (I think 15k is my tops. It hurt my brainparts.)

Worth noting too that in each case, upgrading my benchmark sometimes came because I upped my game. In running, I was getting shin-splints and plantar pain, so I went to a running store and they told me about my gait and what shoes might work — I bought new running shoes, Hoka One Ones, and the pain disappeared. With the pain gone, I was able to run a little faster, a little longer. (Bonus: no pain.) In writing, I was able to cut out distractions with a program like Freedom, and I learned how to use Microsoft Word better, and simply how to hack my schedule and my diet in a way that gave me a little more energy and clarity. So: sometimes working more means working smarter.

But at the base level, it’s just about doing.

And if you want to do a lot, it sometimes means aiming only for a little.

The key was doing something that remains antithetical, I think, to our way of working: we are told to push and push and growl and grind. We’re told to break ourselves to get results. But that, for me, was simply not the way. Not to say I haven’t tried that. Or to say I haven’t sometimes pushed and pushed in a way that was painful — both in writing, and in running. But when I did so, it wasn’t because I demanded I do it. I was pushing past an already low bar of success. I already baked the Get-Shit-Done Cake, and everything after was sweet, delicious, Accomplishment Icing. And the extra fun is, when you set a lower benchmark and surpass it, it feels like a huge fucking win. And feeling like you won is a good way to motivate yourself to do it again, and again, and to do more next time.

It is a kindness to yourself. Don’t expect to run a mile out of the gate. Don’t demand you write the next bestseller. See the increments. Break it up. Find safe, sane, kind limits for yourself — and then you will find it increasingly easy to exceed them. To embrace a little and relish the success instead of always trying to conquer the whole damn lot — and falling short every damn time.

Deep breath. See the finish line. It’s right in front of you. Doing something small is better than doing nothing at all — because you’ve set your difficulty levels too damn high. Because your expectations are too steep, too severe. Because you could not find kindness for yourself and a small, satisfying measurement to keep you going, always going, always able to do more, go bigger, do better.

A game of inches is how you run a game of miles.

Now go.

* * *

WANDERERS: A Novel, out July 2nd, 2019.

A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope. An astonishing tapestry of humanity that Harlan Coben calls “a suspenseful, twisty, satisfying, surprising, thought-provoking epic.”

A sleepwalking phenomenon awakens terror and violence in America. The real danger may not be the epidemic, but the fear of it. With society collapsing—and an ultraviolent militia threatening to exterminate them—the fate of the sleepwalkers and the shepherds who guide them depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart—or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.

Preorder: Print | eBook


31 responses to “On Running, And Writing, And How A Little Becomes A Lot”

  1. Awesome post, Chuck. Going on FOUR YEARS of vertigo, here, and I can happily adapt your encouragement to include “A game of inches is how you run a game of miles.” Today: Walk to the sidewalk and back. Tomorrow: Walk to the corner and back. Or not. Use my cane. Or not. Go as far as I can go, and back. Just don’t stop trying.

    • I’ve been where you are (Meniere’s disease, now in remission). It helped me to know I wasn’t alone. I hope this comment helps you. May you regain you balance soon. 🙂

  2. Aaaaaand, now you’ve given me another reason to start running again. The kiddo hasn’t started walking yet, but he’s an unstoppable climber who has figured out how to move and utilize stools to get what he wants.

  3. I remember crying on the track because my middle school gym coach yelled at me about how he would fail me for the year if I couldn’t run the damn mile in less than 15 minutes. (What kind of sadist thinks they should make kids run a mile in the middle of a broiling Texas afternoon?) It was such a punishing, horrible thing. More than twenty years later, I started going to the gym and there was finally a time where I could learn to do this stuff without someone screaming at me or expecting perfection right out of the gate. I will never be fast, but goddamn I will have endurance. Learning to do this stuff in increments has been such a blessing and merciful and just better all around.

  4. Running and writing are two great tastes that taste great together. The running clears my head and makes me a better writer, and the rush I get from better writing makes me appreciate the running more (and want to do it more!)

  5. And now I have an urge to watch Chariots of Fire and Run, Fat Boy, Run back to back. Although I am leased to say that I can still run (slightly) faster than my 2-something aged kids.

  6. Oh Chuck such a great column. Wow walking at eight months is so young. I apparently walked at nine, which was why my father built a 2m high fence around our unfenced property, at first only installing every second wooden paling, because that was enough to keep me in because my head was slightly too big to fit through the gap. Then he went back round and nailed up the rest. Decades later that oversized picket fence is still there. I have a child of my own now, and at three months old she has me thinking two things: how do I find time and brainpower to write? And how will I keep up with her at three years, when she is already so wriggly? This column/newsletter is perfectly timed for me. Thank you Chuck.

  7. Chuck. What the hell? I am your target audience. Your bulls-eye. Your disciple. Without getting too far in to things, I am far enough out from a 2018 medical procedure to be cleared to do any exercise activity I wish, and that I am capable of. After living a life bereft of running activities, I am just now learning how to run. By myself. In small bits. All the while wondering if I am doing it right? (spoilers: I am not) Today I read your post. It is bizarrely, absurdly, wonderfully pertinent. Especially because, because I am also struggling to incorporate writing in to my daily life. I am daunted. It is frightening and scary and easy to make excuses not to start, just like the running. Your commentary, coming from an author I admire, doing things I am struggling to do, hit home in a positive way. Your words are appreciated, sir. Please keep up the good work.

    tl;dr Hey, thanks!

  8. Great post. I can vouch for the need to be able to chase your kids. My son would take off running and I’d have to mad-dash after him. It was nuts. And sometimes scary. Also, I needed to hear the wriitng, goal, be-nice-to-yourself parts today. Thanks for the reality rub.

    ……now if I could just get that scene from Pet Sematary with Gage outta my head…….Damn you, Chuck. Damn you.

  9. I obstinately refused to learn to walk as a child until my mother put me in dresses (so I couldn’t crawl) and told people to stop carrying me hither and thither like unpaid minions. And as for running… well, only if someone’s chasing me with an axe. (Happened more often than you might think.)

    Fast-forward to my sprog-less adulthood, and not a great deal has changed. I still avoid running like the plague, but I do own a pair of walking shoes. Theoretically, I could always go for a walk. Just down the road, or around the block.

    I really need to get this Do Small Things But Do Them Persistently thing into my head, in writing and in most other areas of my life. Thanks for the advice!

  10. We started a family late. When I hit 50, I had an ADHD seven-year-old and a last-spoiled-child-of-six-and-the-only-girl, who turned four. And they were running circles around me. I got a treadmill for my 50th birthday and took up running. In high school, I was the kid doubled over with a side-stich 200 yards into the 12-minute mile. My gym teacher used to have to come get me out of the locker room, where I hunkered down with a book hoping that he’d forget about me.

    At 52 I was running 6 miles a day, 3 days a week. I ran 10 once. I averaged 9 minutes a mile. My athletic Glory Days.

    Six months of plantar fasciitis put an end to it. I still run, but never got my groove back. I do 2-3 miles these days, and I don’t check the clock. I stick to it, because I work out much of my writing while I’m running.

    I’m rather surprised by the number of writers who run. Of course, I know far more who are highly allergic to sweat and avoid it like ebola.

    Thanks for the post, Chuck.

  11. Great article, Chuck, thank you! I had my “come to Jesus” moment ten years ago when I took my kids back to Vermont and decided we should stroll up one of the Mt. Ascutney trails that I climbed literally 100+ times as a teenager, numerous times with my siblings as small as 5 or 6 years old. When I thought I was going to need a helicopter to get off the mountain a third of the way up while my kids looked down their noses at me…

    I started with walking, did the Avon Walk fundraiser, then running. Now I HATE thinking about running and planning to find time to run, I’m fine while running, and I LOVE having run. I just need to remember the latter more often to get past the former.

  12. I know some see people posting photos about exercise, word counts, and other things as boasting. But they inspire me.

    I’ve not run miles in some years, but I’m working toward getting back to it. I have a way to go, but the memory of running is there. And seeing you and others sharing what you’re doing…it’s inspiring.

    I have a long-time friend who, if we were all putting money down on which of us would die first, many would put their money on him. I’m not sure I would have, but I get it…he was soooooooo out of shape and heavy. And then, boom…guy quits smoking, begins exercising, and…tending to a garden of all things. And in the months of this year, he’s lost over 50 pounds, has become that guy who posts about his workouts (but not in a boastful way), and keeps at it.

    I always joked that he was so sedentary that he stressed no part of his body and would, thus, outlive us all.

    And now…he just might for real…and I’m happy for him!

    Keep running (and sharing updates about running)! It rubs off, and might just save more people than your writing!

    (And you kinda-sorta-really have that writing thing down!)

  13. At the start of the year I decided to start integrate jogging into my walking into work – it’s 5k. I decided to do the little-steps method, but I used an interval timer. I started with an interval timer set at 15 seconds jogging and 4 minutes 45 seconds walking. I figured I could easily do 15 seconds jogging with 4:45 minutes as a recovery time.

    Every week I have been adding 5 seconds to my jogging time, and removing 5 seconds from my walking time. I’m currently 2 mins jogging and 3 minutes walking, and its been as smooth and gradual as I could have hoped for.

    As you’ve said – tiny improvements over a long time make a huge difference.

  14. I just sent this to my husband with the subject “There is a section in the middle of this that perfectly explains what we’re about to experience.” We have a 5-month-old. He’s starting to inch. I’m scared.

    Also, woohoo for former mile-avoiders. I was an asthmatic kid, but I had gone a few years without an attack when I started grade school, so I still had to attempt The Mile and it was the bane of my gym class existence. I started running again in grad school and did a marathon 11 years ago. I need to start up again since having the kid…

  15. Uh. Yeah. Learning to run so you can chase your kid is a solid move. It’s like the little bastards deliberately try to kill themselves. My childfree friends totally didn’t know this was a thing until we had a baby shower at our house, and the one kid under 3 beelined straight for the electrical outlet, tongue out, ready to stick it right in the prong slots. My son once sprinted right out into a parking lot and was nearly hit by an SUV. (Thankfully they hit the brakes.) When I told him he could have died he said “No, Mom. I’m a super hero. The truck would have flipped right over me.” Ugh. I’m tense just typing that. I was a track sprinter for six years and couldn’t catch him. Sprinty little bastard was like a toddler Jesse Owens. So yeah. Keep running, dude. Keep running.

  16. But Chuck! People do say push like you’re going to poop! Midwives say it! hahaha but going on, this is wisdom, thank you for sharing, just small steps

  17. Well, damn it. I’ve been tempted, with the return of decent weather, to try some kind of non-destructive running rather than slouching into pre-breakfast hour of World of Tanks, and this might have given me the necessary shove. I was put off it in high school, too, by a gym teacher taking a break from coaching professional football (and he apparently saw no need to change approach between A Bunch Of KIds and Well-Paid Canadian Football League Athletes). So, thanks, Mr. Wendig, you’ve either added years to my life or brought on the heart-attack I’ve been avoiding through indolence!

    On the writing front– I was adding up my week’s words and found that this week I chugged out 50% more than I usually do… without noticing any difference in effort and without any more time devoted to the cause. Inches turn into miles indeed.

  18. PUSH LIKE YOU’RE POOPING, someone yells (okay, nobody really says that).

    That is EXACTLY what my doctor said as I was pushing out my son.

  19. I had a similar realization about writing early last year. I had gotten it into my head that a writing session didn’t really count if I couldn’t sit down and bang out 1000 words, and since I was struggling to find the time or the energy (since I was badly in the weeds plot-wise), I very rarely bothered.

    But there’s a post that goes around Tumblr in a couple of different versions that says “If you can read this, stop what you’re doing and add three sentences to your WIP.” So I would, because three sentences was something I could manage. I have a Tumblr queue that I curate to ensure a good mix of posts, so whenever I was working on that and came across that post in the hopper, I would stop and go write something. And wouldn’t you know, getting a week’s worth of posts organized might yield a completed scene or more.

    So “three sentences” became my benchmark. Like you said, I usually go further, but if I don’t, I can just stop without getting down on myself for being a failure. Even when it’s like pulling teeth I can usually get it done in 20 minutes max, and that’s something I can manage no matter what else is going on or where I am. (I’ve done a fair amount of writing on my phone, and even busted out my Chromebook while waiting for the fireworks at Disneyland.) And I have a side project I intend to do absolutely nothing with, so if my proper WIP was a complete no-go, like if I was stuck and hadn’t figured out how to unstick yet, I could go dump three sentences into that side project without having to worry about if they were good or made sense. It was enough to get me to open up the document to keep it fresh in my brain, and to ensure that I still know how to put words into a pleasing order.

    I haven’t missed a writing day since I started. A little less than a year after I implemented this, I finally finished the draft of a novel that took me about four years in total to get through. It felt DAMN good.

  20. Love this. I’ve been writing my first novel for over 10 years now. Before this year, I floundered and almost stopped. Then I set a really low metric for myself. Write everyday no matter what. I’m back on track and I am getting the remodeling at the house done and the landscaping and working crazy hours at work AND I just went over 77K words on my novel and the end is now in sight. (The first draft anyway.) ANd soon, I will start running again—once we get out of the triple digit temperatures.

  21. Thanks for this. As the great Axl Rose sang, “I used to do a little then a little wouldn’t do it, so a little got more and more. I just try and get a little bit better than before.” Words of inspiration. He’s singing about running too, right?

  22. This post is coming at the perfect time. I just quit my Real Job after 10 years, and am diving in the deep end of entering the freelance writing world and focusing on my projects that I could “never make time for.” With all this newfound freedom, I’m drowning in a quagmire of indecision and flooded with options. Should I write a zillion proposals today? Should I write for my portfolio? What the fuck do I pull out of the ether to write about? Should I browse Reddit for two hours? (Okay, only sometimes. And like, once a day, tops. What the fuck, how did I end up staring at my phone for FOUR HOURS??) Also, how the fuck am I gonna stay in shape without my physically demanding job? Did I eat today?

    But I’ve been taking your advice (before you even gave it to me, don’t take all the credit, bub). I’ve taken up swimming, and hoo boy am I out of shape. Smoking cigarettes will do that to you. I started with a modest goal. Sometimes the hard part is just getting myself to do it, but so far so good. I write a few proposals. I work on a small, freelance-focused piece. I write a few hundred words for myself.

    I think I’m figuring it out. Thanks for the encouraging words.

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