Yesterday at the Capital City Half Marathon, my pace coach Lynne brought signs for those of us who were cheering. Her sign read, "Embrace the suck." We stood at the twelfth mile of this thirteen point one mile race greeting the runners and walkers who had just climbed a hill. "One more mile!" we shouted. Their sweat-stained faces were filled with exhaustion. When they read Lynne's sign, most laughed. When they saw the twelve mile marker behind us, all of their faces lit up. They were so close to finishing.
I sometimes feel this exhaustion when I'm writing. I've revised and revised and received positive feedback, but there's still so far to go. Some days writing is difficult. Unlike the runners, I don't know how far I am from the finish, but I know it's out there. There's nothing to do, but face the difficulties and push onward.
At a recent writing retreat some friends and I were discussing how many hours we spend trying to make writing less difficult. We concluded that perhaps ninety-five percent of the time we're supposed to feel lost and worried that we don't know what we're doing. Maybe we've been mistaken trying to make it easier. Maybe expecting it to be hard might make it easier to embrace it when it is.
I don't have an answer to this question. Writing isn't always tough. Often it brings such joy I feel like the luckiest person alive. But on the more frustrating days I worry I've chosen a path of torture. That's when there's nothing left to do but embrace the suck and run up that hill toward the finish.