I’m happy to welcome Lucy Adams today as her book tour for Tuck Your Skirt In Your Panties And Run makes a stop at my little blog. If my blog were a town, it would be that town known for its one pump gas station and not much else. Being on a ‘Blog Tour’ is a rare and big event here! I’m thrilled and honored to welcome Lucy for a conversation about the relationship between running and writing. I think I may have mentioned once or twice on this blog how big a role running plays in my writing practice..
Me: As a runner, I was instantly in love with the title of your book Tuck Your Skirt In Your Panties And Run. What is the significance behind the word ‘run’ in the title?
Lucy: ‘Run’ in the title has a double meaning. The title itself refers to those horrible embarrassing situations that we get into despite our usual best efforts to stay away. ‘Run’ on the surface means to physically put yardage between yourself and what went unexpectedly and unavoidably wrong.
In another sense, ‘run’ means to put distance between yourself and the embarrassing moment by not dwelling on it and getting on with life. Too often we boil ourselves in the juices of worry and self-pity after one of these occasions, not realizing that most of the witnesses have long forgotten our gaffe. And, prior to forgetting it, benefitted from a good, healthy laugh at our blunder.
Me: I confess I’m the girl who obsesses endlessly over the situation! I run because it helps to put the situation in the proper perspective so I can stop dwelling.
Q1: For me, running and writing are two disciplines that complement one another. Is this true in your experience?
Lucy: My writing life and my running life sort of parallel each other. I have a love-hate relationship with running. I hate getting started and I love how I feel when I’m finished.
In a way writing is like that for me. Getting started is the hardest part. Transferring the initial idea from my head to the page sometimes feels like drudgery. The rough draft is work, not creative expression. But once I get started and my fingers are tapping across the keyboard or my pen is rolling across lined paper, I begin to lose myself in the story. Just like with running, everything becomes rhythm and pace after that, until suddenly I find that I’m done. It’s exhilarating.
Me: I agree. The first few steps are the hardest, but knowing the way I feel when I’m finished spurs me on.
Q2: Has running helped you break through writer’s block or inspired ideas for articles and stories?
Lucy: Before I started my running program, my personal rule was to only run if someone was chasing me. Not just anyone could get my motor going, either. That someone had to be scary with ill intent. I got a couple of good newspaper columns out of those early days of couch to 5k training and my bitter reluctance toward it. Within two months I ran my first 5k race. For the 5k I wore a pink t-shirt with my book title in large lettering on the back, Tuck Your Skirt In Your Panties And Run. It was appropriate since I finished in front of someone walking and a woman pushing a double stroller. They were last.
Running reminds me of the freedom of complete focus. When I’m writing, there are so many distractions. I find myself checking my FaceBook or I think of something to Tweet or I click over to check my email. I go from researching something to wandering around the Internet. These distractions are incredibly irresistible and frustrating. Sometimes I feel constrained by them.
Running helps me with self-discipline. It doesn’t come easy for me. It’s hard. So I coach myself to keep moving, to keep putting one foot in front of the other. At the same time I’m making goals for myself in my head: Make it to the curve in the road; make it to the top of the hill; make it to the tenth light pole, etc. This complete concentration on the task at hand is not only excellent training for the body, but also for the brain. I’m more productive after a good run.
Me: Thanks for pointing out a great technique to help me with my writing goals! I need to concentrate on sitting down and getting words out -only I need to start with a smaller wordcount and build from there – just as I would my mileage in running.
Q3: Besides writing, does running help you make sense of life and help you organize your thoughts about other things?
Lucy: Running distracts me from life and all of the things that nag at me. It’s a relief for my brain to shift over to survival mode. (Tee hee). Like I said, all I’m thinking about is getting to the top of the hill and promising myself to reassess my commitment to the run at that juncture. I suppose that’s how I attack things in life, too.
Me (nodding my head): Running keeps me from being overwhelmed in times of stress and helps me to always appreciate the small blessings.
Q4: Making time to run is easier for me than making time to write. Which is harder for you?
Lucy: I have a love-hate relationship with running. I can easily find an excuse to skip a run. It’s way easier for me to make time for writing. Going a day without writing is like going without taking a breath. Going without running is like a party for my feet and knees.
Me: We are complete opposites on this one! Going a day without running feels like going a day without breathing for me. I wonder if this makes me less of a writer? As if my passion for writing isn’t as intense as it should be? I’ve been running for as long as I’ve been writing, but have been more consistent with my running practice. Maybe I just need to keep making writing a priority and my running discipline will rub off on my writing discipline.
Q5: I find it more difficult to run when it’s hot and humid. What’s it like for you running in the South?
Lucy: I’m a fair-weather runner. I notice the heat and humidity and I notice the cold. The end of July through the end of August is no good for running. Same thing goes for January through mid-February.
See? I’m very good at finding excuses.
Me: Me too – finding excuses to not write! If we combined your determination to write and my determination to run we’d be unstoppable!
Q6: Do you have a favorite runner or someone who inspires your running?
Lucy: Honestly, I can’t name a runner, except maybe a couple of Olympic sprinters of notable fame (Marion Jones, for example). The people who inspire me to keep at it are the ones I see jogging past my house and through my neighborhood. Ordinary, everyday people are my biggest inspiration.
Me: I absolutely agree with you 100% on this!
Q7: Do you like to run alone or with a friend or group?
Lucy: I usually run with my husband because it’s a way for us to spend time together. When we can’t get our schedules to match, I run alone. I enjoy the solitude. I also don’t know anyone who runs as slowly as I.
Me: I’d love to run with my husband. He’s more into bike riding. I also enjoy the solitude of running solo. Although, I’d make an exception if we lived in the same neighborhood! I’m not a fast runner either and it’d be a great opportunity to see what happens when we combine our running-fueled creativity!
Final Question: If your fairy godmother were to grant you one wish, would it be to run like ‘insert great runner’s name here’ for a day or to write like ‘insert great writer’s name here’ for a day?
Lucy: I’d likely waste my wish on chocolate.
But if I didn’t, I’d ask my fairy godmother to make the descriptive eloquence of William Faulkner, the offbeat humor of Tom Robbins and the simplicity of Emily Dickinson intertwine in my words and flow from my pen. Those are three very difficult voices to combine, but imagine what they would say if they all got together! Maybe something like, Tuck Your Skirt In Your Panties And Run . . .
More About Tuck Your Skirt In Your Panties And Run
Ever laughed when you knew you shouldn’t? Battled with Satan over chocolate? Forgotten to wear lipstick to the Garden Club meeting? Tried to define variorium? At times like these, what else can you do but Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run?
In her much awaited second book, Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run, award winning writer Lucy Adams, author of If Mama Don’t Laugh, It Ain’t Funny, takes readers on a roller-coaster ride through life’s most embarrassing moments and delivers them safely on the other side. In her usual form, Adams gives readers an eye-watering, nose-snorting, giggling gift of a good time.
Join a 40 year-old bridesmaid on her journey to walk down the aisle, delve into a magnolia massacre, attend a hawg killin’ with the communists, do some island living country style, and inflict vicarious revenge on the inventor of the balloon. Adams’s wit will make you turn around and check your own underwear. Best of all we each can relax in the realization that we’re not the only ones running with our skirts tucked in our panties.
Connect with Lucy
@LucyAdams on Twitter.