Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Marathon Metaphors and Harry Potter

Recently, as I was catching up with a few blogs, I noticed a phrase that appeared repeatedly across the blogosphere: "It’s a marathon." The race was being compared, in several instances, to the task of writing a book. Apparently, as a society, we think that anything that takes determination, endurance, tenacity, and time, is similar to running a marathon. I found my own conclusion a bit amusing: Obviously, most authors don’t realize how easy running a marathon really is! Because, seriously? Finishing a book? Way, way harder.

Then I started contemplating what I thought could be a better metaphor for writing a book. What’s an athletic event that takes as much time, dedication, and belief in one’s self as writing a book? A hundred-miler? Not in my opinion. What about longer races in extreme conditions, like Badwater, or Marathon des Sables? Maybe. But anyway, I really think we need to cut the “it’s a marathon” cliché from our vernacular because it’s just not working for me anymore.

But, and I apologize for this very reachy transition, one of the writers employing this cliché was also one of my favorite bloggers, Nathan Bransford, writing about one of my very favorite authors, J.K. Rowling. Last week he had “Harry Potter Week” on his blog. (Reason #126 that I love Nathan: He shows proper adoration for the Harry Potter series.)

One of his posts was titled, “J.K. Rowling and the Art of Being a Clutch Writer.” (Reason #127: Nathan compares writing to running, even if he does say “it’s a marathon.” I love you, Nathan.) He ultimately says that J.K. is a clutch writer because she pushed on, beneath massive amounts of pressure, to continue delivering amazing books, and, finally, one of the most believable, satisfying, and well done conclusions to a series, in spite of gigantic expectations. Now that is clutch.

This all led me to realize something incredibly important, something I’d forgotten about in all my busyness and adventuring.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” opens this Friday!

Do you think Harry is a forefoot-striker or a heel-striker?

True, not nearly as eventful as when the book came out, but since there are no more books in the series, I’ll take what I can get. And yes, it’s only part one, so we can drag the anticipation of the finale out just a bit longer to July. Sounds good to me!

Check out Nathan’s Harry Potter week posts:

Harry Potter Week: Who is Your Favorite Character?

Five Writing Tips from Reading J.K. Rowling's HARRY POTTER

Which Harry Potter Book is the Best?

J.K. Rowling and the Art of Being a Clutch Writer

This Week in Books: A collection of Harry Potter blog posts

And let the movie trailer get you psyched if you aren’t already.

Meanwhile, I’m going to try to get in touch with J.K. and challenge her to a marathon.


  1. Actually a really good transition from marathon to Harry Potter, nice writing!

  2. I'm guessing Harry is a heel striker, he kinda has that 'vibe' ;)

    I LOVE the HP. I lost touch with the books after I graduated way back when and never finished #4, so I have a LOT of catching up to do!

  3. A local theatre is showing all the Harry movies in sequence, ending with the premiere at midnight (no, I'm not typing this there).

    One caveat to the book writing being hard - writing a GOOD book is hard. There's a hundred thousand people writing a novel this November for national novel writing month. Exactly zero should ever be published (including mine).

  4. Kovas - Aw, well, thanks. :)

    Paige - Yeah, but I think most of his running is probably sprinting, like away from Death Eaters and the like. That would indicate a forefoot landing. His stride does look a little stretched in that photo ...

    Steve - You're doing NaNo?! Awesome! My students are doing it this year. A bit less committing since they get to set their own word count goals.

    Sadly, I just realized I'm going to have to miss the HP premier this weekend. Big storm coming in, and no way am I getting stuck in Reno! Not even for Harry.

  5. Well, my 50000 word novel last year went, "See Steve run. Run, Steve, run. Run very very very (50000 more "very's") far. Take a nap, Steve."

    Give me a set of rules and I'll find a way to cheat...

  6. That trailer made me a giddy and thrilled like a 14 year old girl.

  7. Steve - Ah yes, I do recall that. I suggest skipping the publication step for that one. Just a thought. ;)

    Russ - I'm totally right there with you. I can't wait to see it!!