When I started writing, the only exercise I got was to walk to the corner and get cigarettes. It stayed that way for many, many years. I suppose if you add up the packs of cigarettes, you'd get quite a few miles of walking. This morning I ran my first ever 10k. Actually a little farther. 6.55 miles about the fair city of San Francisco. Some sample scents on the morning jaunt included, but were not limited to: fresh baked pastries, cigars, human excrement, dolce and gabbana perfume, home fries, cilantro, marlboro reds, and what seemed to be some fantastically potent mary jane. It's an amazing city to run around, even when it feels bad, which it often does. Like writing, a lot of the time I think about quitting, then convince myself not to. Also I think about the book. I think about the badlands we drove through on tour and about my tour mates from the van this year, all so brilliant, all so inspiring. I think about my mom and how she had no doubt in her voice when I told her I wanted to run the marathon. And I think about Ginger, my photography partner and my favorite person, and how she always sits in my office listening while I read her pages from the book, assuring me that no matter what, I can write it.
And I think about RADAR. For me, I like the new year to be a quiet time. A time to look back and appreciate, a time to look forward and set goals. Then I lay it all down and walk to the present. In 2009 I had the opportunity to travel the country with Sister Spit the Next Generation, showing photographs and reading from my novel in progress to folks all over America. I also applied to the maiden voyage of the RADAR Writer's Lab in Akumal, Mexico where I worked on my book unfettered by life's little details like going to my job every day. While I am grateful to have a job that I actually like, It's hard to go to work 40 hours a week, walk the dog, do the laundry, cook, deepen human connections, and still try and write a book. And for me, a particularly weird book, as it turns out. With RADAR's help, I had the opportunity to do just that for nine days in paradise. No cooking. No cleaning. No job. No dog walking. No laundry. Just me, the ocean, my colleagues, and the book. I have never felt anything quite like it. And the tour gave me a place to go read the work to people all over. Omaha and Laramie. New York and Chicago. Oakland and San Francisco. Packed in a van with brilliant artists, the genius pinging around the van like electrons. Most of the money for the tour and for the lab was raised. What little funding the organization did get, has been largely cut.
When I decided I wanted to finish the first draft of the book before I turn forty on August 21st, I realized my writing process is much like running. So hand in hand, I decided to try and do another crazy thing and run the San Francisco Marathon. 26.2 miles. With plenty of hills. It really sounds insane. But whatever. I've definitely done stupider things for worse reasons. I researched it and found that many folks run to raise money for things they care deeply about. Me? I care about art. About people's stories. I care about the work Michelle Tea does and when I picture a world where there is no funding for that, I picture a world where colors don't burn so brilliant and girls don't laugh quite as freely. Her work with RADAR has been vital to my own personal happiness, but much more than that it is the kind of work that happens by exponent. It's effect is so kind, so generous, and so smart, that an entire movement warms itself around her fire. Please help keep the flames of our creativity stoked.
It really takes so much to make this stuff happen.Think of how you could personally feed a writer struggling through the craggy chapter of the novel that feels as though it might kill them. You could be the person who puts gas in the tank of the Sister Spit van that's about to roll into your town, exploding with talents that will bring you joy and rapture. Or you could just be a lover of art, of literature, of Michelle's incredible work. Please do anything you can. And also it'd be nice if you could come down and cheer for me on July 25th. I look hilarious, but kind of awesome, in spandex.
26.2 miles is a long way to run, but not nearly as long as it took to get here.
Thanks for all your support.
I promise I'll do my very best in your name.
Love and Literature,
Sara Elise Seinberg