The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Guest Meg Mitchell Moore on One Shoe Missing

May 17, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[For many authors running and writing not only complement each other, they also share numerous similarities. In today’s guest post, journalist/debut author Meg Mitchell Moore (The Arrivals coming May 25, 2011) describes what it really takes to cross a finish line and/or type “The End.”]

One Shoe Missing

I am certainly not the first writer to address the parallels between running and writing, and undoubtedly I won’t be the last. (Debut author Rebecca Rasmussen wrote a fabulous post on the topic recently for this very site: Semper Fi.)

The reason running and writing inspire so many comparisons are because, well, they have a lot of similarities. I have been doing both for a long time. Both writing and running require enormous amounts of discipline. Both are solitary pursuits—you may run with a partner or show your writing to a critique group or a trusted agent or editor, but when you’re in the middle of a long, hard slog at the desk or on the road there’s nobody else who can do the work for you. Both often feel better when complete than during the act itself. Both are painful when done to the best of one’s abilities! (I’m not selling either pursuit very well, am I?) Both produce a sort of “high” on a good day. (Better?)

One additional reason I want to write about running in this post is to tell you about an event I witnessed earlier this year at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix meet at Boston’s Reggie Lewis track. The competitors in the men’s 3,000-meter race gathered at the starting line. In the controlled chaos that marks the beginning of many elite distance races, Ethiopian runner Dejen Gebremeskel lost a shoe, probably when another runner inadvertently stepped on his heel. This was an indoor track meet, which means competitors in the 3,000-meter race run 15 laps around the track. Nobody would have faulted Gebremeskel if he had stepped off the track after losing a shoe in the very first lap. (The sock, for the curious among you, remained on.) Gebremeskel’s gait was compromised, and he risked injury that could have put the rest of his indoor season in jeopardy. Not to mention that the unshod foot was particularly vulnerable to the spikes of the other runners’ shoes. Because of the rubber track, he said later, his foot was burning. He got blisters. (Ever try running with blisters? It hurts! A lot.) But. Gebremeskel didn’t step off the track. He ran the entire 15 laps with one shoe, then, with the crowd cheering him on, he won the race, overtaking Mo Farah, the anointed favorite, in the last few steps.

Let me say it one more time. The guy with only one shoe won the race!

I thought Gebremeskel’s race was an act of extreme courage, and I find myself thinking about it every so often with a mixture of awe and envy. I also find a lot of inspiration in the memory. And here we go again with the parallels between writing and running, with a different twist. The acts of courage writing requires rarely (okay, never) happen in front of hordes of foot-stomping fans in a televised event; they are, more often than not, as solitary as the pursuit of writing itself. They look something like this. Maybe you go back into a book and revise again, again, again to make it as close to the vision you began with as you can. Maybe you abandon a book you’ve spent months or years on when you know it’s not working. Maybe you query one more agent even though you think another rejection might put you over the edge or send you running for the scotch bottle. Maybe you swallow your pride and accept a painful critique that, deep down, you know is correct. Maybe you ignore the people who wonder why you’re spending so much time and energy on something that may never see the light of day.

I know not every reader of this site is a writer, but to those of you who are, these are all acts of courage, every single one of them. One foot in front of the other, one word after another (or, as Anne Lamott tells us, bird by bird), one day after the next after the next. Maybe nobody sees it, maybe nobody notices, but you writers know what you’re doing: you’re finishing the race with one shoe missing.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher (aka Julianna Baggott) in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Julianna Baggott (aka Bridget Asher) and The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

The Revealing of Meg Mitchell Moore

May 11, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Journalist Meg Mitchell Moore turns her writing skills to fiction with The Arrivals, coming to bookstores and online retailers Wednesday, May 25, 2011.

To briefly describe this debut novel, consider the intriguing question it poses: What happens when an empty nest fills up again?

And, as a result, its received glorious early praise:

“Moore finds a crisp narrative in the morass of an overpacked household, and she keeps the proceedings moving with an assurance and outlook reminiscent of Laurie Colwin, evoking emotional universals with the simplest of observations, as in ‘the peace you feel when you are awake in a house where children are sleeping.’” Publishers Weekly

“Featuring sharp dialogue and witty, easily recognizable characters, Moore’s debut takes an engaging, often humorous look at a family’s struggle to cope with the passage of time and shifting family dynamics. It is a clear reminder of the changing yet changeless nature of families and the individuals who inhabit them.” Booklist

“What an intoxicating read! Meg Mitchell Moore takes on the age-old topic of parents and children and their children with a fresh perspective, a canny understanding of human emotion, and the absolute best dialogue I have ever read. Both charming and deeply meaningful, this is one book you must not miss.” – New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of The Arrivals for Monday, May 23, 2011 but let’s meet the author now through her “official” bio:

Meg Mitchell Moore worked for several years as a journalist. Her work has been published in Yankee, Continental, Women’s Health, Advertising Age and many other business and consumer magazines. She received a B.A. from Providence College and a master’s degree in English Literature from New York University. The Arrivals is her first novel. Her second novel will be published by Reagan Arthur Books in 2012. Meg lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts, with her husband, their three children and a beloved border collie.

A second novel to be published next year? It’s definitely time to get to know Meg, upclose and personal:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Busy, more laundry than time, caffeinated, productive, LUCKY.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: It’s never too late.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: Three happy healthy little girls sleeping after a day at the beach, bottle of wine with my husband.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Failing as a parent.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Top of a ski slope.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Single parents the world over.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: Well, you know, hurry up.

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: A natural and flawless sense of direction.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Raising three children with impeccable grammar. Also, just raising three children—not done yet, but so far so good.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Impatience.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: Integrity.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Not learning a bunch of foreign languages when my mind was a sponge. Now my mind is definitely not a sponge.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: My border collie running after a tennis ball on the beach—that’s pure joy.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: Eyes.

Q; Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Jackson Brodie.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Angela Argo in Blue Angel

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights. I know! He’s not real! But I want him to be.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Laziness. Or bullying. Lazy bullies are the worst.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Reading, running.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: I’m pretty happy with this one. But if I had to pick another: owner of a bookstore/coffee shop. On the water. In New Zealand.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Honesty, sense of humor, empathy.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: The shrimp, avocado and mango salad at Agave, a Mexican restaurant in my town.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: Different for Girls, Joe Jackson
The Crane Wife 3, The Decemberists
Fly Me to the Moon, Frank Sinatra
Orbital, Josh Ritter
Kick Drum Heart, The Avett Brothers

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson
To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf
The Emperor’s Children, by Claire Messud
Hateship, Frienship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, by Alice Munro
Olive Kitteride, Elizabeth Strout

Mmm = Meg Mitchell Moore, a talented, new author to follow on Twitter and friend on Facebook!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of The First Husband by Laura Dave in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Laura Dave and The First Husband. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to see if you’re a winner.