Thursday, September 22, 2011

Guest Post: Lani Wendt Young

Today rocks. Like, a lot. Wanna know why? Because Lani Wendt Young is here! I was lucky enough to discover her blog a few months ago, and I've been stalking her ever since. She's amazing, her blog is amazing, she hails from the land of The Lord of the Rings, and she is on her book tour for her newly released book, TELESA. Take it away, Lani!

As a writer who writes too many different things all the time – I am often asked: “Where do you find the time and the drive to write? How do you overcome writer’s ‘block’?”  Such questions are a puzzle to me and so my answer is 105km and 14 hrs long…

Two years ago, I had a crazy idea.  I wanted to put together a women’s team and run in a 105km relay that went around the main island of Samoa. It was crazy because at the time I couldn’t even run around the parking lot without stopping to gasp for breath. But I was determined. I convinced some other moms from my church to be crazy with me and we started training.

For 5 days a week over three months, we would meet at the crack of dawn to go for a 5k run. I use the term ‘run’ very loosely since, at first, we did more of a shuffle, which then accelerated to become a waddle, which then after a few weeks, became a jiggly, joggly sort of jog. Did I enjoy it? Hell no. I hated every minute of it. Many times, I only went because it was my turn to drive and pick the team up. Other times, I only went because the rest of the team was honking their car horn outside, waiting to pick me up.

The 2009 Dream Team at the finish line, Apia Samoa (I'm number 34 in the middle).

But after 6 weeks, something strange happened. (No, I didn’t transform into a stunning athletic muscle machine. I wish.) I found myself waking up early on Saturday mornings…wanting to go for a run, itching and edgy for a run. Huh? By Wk 9, I was going for a run TWICE A DAY.  And when I got the flu and couldn’t train for a week? I was raving mad. As if someone had bought all the Diet Coke on the island, leaving me with nothing but coconuts to drink. By the time the Perimeter Relay came around, I was running twice a day, sometimes 6 days a week. But more significantly, the running had become as essential to me as eating. Sleeping. Brushing my teeth. I wouldn’t dream of going a work-day without it.  It took our team 14 hours to complete the relay, running from 2am to 5pm the next afternoon. Many times during that relay, I wanted to puke and die. But many times, I was also running on an exhilarating high as I gloried in feeling like  – I could run forever and never stop.

Writing is just like that. If you want to BE a writer, you don’t ‘find time’ in your busy schedule to write. You make time. You start with a goal. A crazy dream. ‘I want to write a romance. A best-selling thriller. A children’s book. A memoir about my grandmother...’ You set aside a time and a place every day that you are going to write. You start off small. Shuffling, waddling baby steps to get you building the consistent writing habit. You write anything and everything. Start a journal. A family newsletter. Write down those bedtime stories you tell your kids. Record your family history. Write long, chatty letters to friends. Start a blog AND THEN STICK TO IT.  The best thing I ever did for my writing career was to start a blog – it forced me to assert and accept responsibility for my writing. Your blog readers can be like that relay team of runners who force you to stick to your crazy dream by bugging you every day for your latest piece of writing. At first, it will be hard. You will probably hate it. Complain. Whinge and whine looking for excuses NOT to write. But if you keep at it, doggedly, persistently - you will hit that point where you can’t imagine a day, a moment, without writing. When you’re not writing, you will be thinking about it. If you have an unruly mob of children like me, you will dread the weekends because it means less writing time. ( And don’t even get me started on the horror of school holidays…aaargh!) You will write because you feel like you will die if you don’t. You will write because you are a writer. And that’s what writers do.

A Very Sad Footnote to this Writing Story: In the past 12 months, my first book of narrative non-fiction ‘Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi’ was launched. My story ‘The Beast that Came from the Sea’ was professionally recorded for radio and broadcast in 54 countries. I have blogged 5 days a week. Completed a collection of short fiction which has just won the Fiction Award in the 2011 International USP Press Competition. Finished my 450 page urban fantasy YA fiction novel TELESA and started on the second. Written numerous children’s stories that are published in the NZ School Reading Curriculum. All while being the slave mother to five fabulous children. However, I have not been running anywhere. Not even in the parking lot. And it shows…

Thanks for stopping by, Lani! (I don't know about you guys, but I think that picture shows she is an athletic muscle machine.) I definitely recommend checking out her blog. She posts five days a week, and somehow manages to be hilarious and well-written with every single post. I kid you not, I would read anything Lani writes in book form because everything she writes in blog form is stellar. Check it out! Sleepless in Samoa. Lani's book TELESA was just released, and you can buy it on Amazon here.

Have a fabulous day everyone!

13 comments:

BECKY said...

Hi Peggy! I just left a comment for Lani on her blog. What a neat woman! So glad you shared her with the rest of us! :)

Abby said...

Oh my gosh! She is AMAZING! I love this story. I feel motivated. I want to go for a run and then write 5000 words! I just went to follow her blog and now I need to check out that book! I'm so glad you shared Lani with us today! What an awesome woman all around!

Ashley Nixon said...

This was wonderful! Now I feel like I need to wake up at 5 every morning just to write....I already workout...that motivation is like a roller-coaster.

Richard said...

Sounds like she's Superwoman.
Thanks for the intro.

Jenny S. Morris said...

Such great advice. I've done the Hood to Coast relay twice, and it was the same for me. I started craving the feel of my legs burning around the 6 mile mark.

It looks like you put the same amount of effort in everything, and it pays off. Good for you!

Great post. Now following Lani. Woohoo!

Cristina said...

awesome advice! just what I needed to hear today. I'm off to check out Laini's blog!

Kristine said...

That is awesome! Off to check out her blog!

Carrie Butler said...

Wow! What an inspiration! :) I'm off to check out her blog. Thanks for sharing, Pegasus!

elizabethreinhardt said...

Amazing story! And truly inspiring! Thank you for sharing!

**AiTaH said...

Thanks Lani and thanks Peggy! I needed to hear this today...

Lani Wendt Young said...

Thank you - Peggy your blog is the friendliest coolest place to hang out. Everyone says the nicest things! I like how some of your readers are super runners/athletes and can totally relate to the adrenaline junkie aspect of getting into the training habit. Likewise though, I should add that the fact that I havent been running all year, is evidence of how easy it is and how quickly we can LOSE that writing/training high. Use it or lose it - is such a true statement when it comes to being a writer. Dont stop the habit.
I always learn something useful when I stalk Peggy's blog and its such a thrill to be a guest on it today!

Kelley said...

Really inspirational. I dug it :) And I'm run jealous, even if it was from what feels like a previous life. lol. Best of luck!!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Yep, you guys are DEFINITELY the best!!

Thanks again for sharing your wit and wisdom with us, Lani.