Achieving Goals

When we set goals for ourselves, there is nothing better than achieving them.  A few years back, I set one for running a marathon.  I trained for it for about nine months, a race held in Bluffington S. C.  It started at 7:00 a.m.  Even though it was October, it was already in the mid 70’s.  Anyone who runs and runs distance, knows this is already hot, and not conducive to running more than, say, five miles.  By the time I finished, four hours, forty five minutes later – it was 86 degrees.  I missed my finishing goal by fifteen minutes, about 30 secs slower per mile than I’d wanted, but I was so happy to be done, I didn’t care.  I’d done it!  Of course I threw up for about four hours after the fact (heat exhaustion) but who cared?  (Ha.  Runners – a breed of their own)

Two years later I ran a second marathon, also in October.  This time, the weather was cooler – thanks to an impending Nor’easter – keep that in the back of your mind as you read.  The race was on the Outer Banks of N.C., and at mile 20, there was this…, well, this bridge.  We all heard about it.  We had all seen it because we had to cross it to get to the island, and let me just say, crossing it in a car is much different than crossing it on foot.  The morning of the race, it was overcast, with a slight wind.  The gun went off and we were on our way.  The first half I was kicking ass, beating my previous half marathon time by about twelve minutes.  I clocked in at the half marker in two hours and ten minutes. Whoop!  At that pace I’d beat my goal of four and half hours.

My hubby, who met me at various mile markers, was confident enough that I could do without his cheering me on long enough to go and have breakfast at the Squat & Gobble.  (We laughed about that name, kidding that it was okay to eat there as long as it wasn’t the Gobble & Squat)  Then it began to rain, and I mean a driving downpour that soaked everything immediately.  At first it felt good.  Then it got cold.  Then there came – the bridge.  We go up.  And up.   Lord, this is a long way up.  By now, the Nor’easter is in full force and the wind is whipping along about 35 m.p.h.  At the top – well it was windy.  All that I had gained time wise was blown  to hell.   The thing was…, I had said over and over, if I can just get over the bridge, if I can just get over the bridge…like some sort of chant.  Well.  I got over the bridge and then I realized, I still had six miles to go.  Wet, cold, hungry – six miles.  But.  I finished.  Four hours and fifty six minutes later.  Slower (much slower) than I wanted, but again, the euphoria of finishing outshone my lack of making that four and a half hour mark again.

Lately, my goals haven’t revolved around running.  They’re centered on writing.  I have the little ones, like word count per day, editing a certain number of pages per day, or working through a plot dilemma etc.  Then there are the bigger goals, like finishing a manuscript.  And I’m happy, (make that really happy) to say I’ve made it to THE END of this one, and it’s monumental because I never thought I’d get there.  A few months ago, I couldn’t even picture how the story would go or what it would take to get around some of the plot points.   I went this way, and then that.  I tore out chapters and wrote new ones.  I changed one major plot idea and believe (hope) it’s for the best.

Now, the story is done, at over 106,000 words.  Done – but not done.  Now I need to read it end to end – without touching it. (if I can stand it!)  I need to see how it flows, with the idea that I’ll need to cut at least 7,000 words to get it down to the more acceptable word count of around 99,000.  (remember that previous post where I talked about acceptable word counts?)  However, I won’t cut anything unless I know the story is better for it and if not, it stays in – for now.

So, that was a huge goal to achieve.

And there was another one – a pleasant surprise.  As you know, I love, love, love participating in those flash fiction contests held by Janet Reid.  It’s been my goal to win because to do so, IMHO, is huge.  It’s huge b/c the contest is open internationally, she’s a well reputed agent, and the competition is stiff.  And she cuts no slack.  And there can be anywhere from 80 to 100 entries.  She held another contest this past weekend, same rules – five word prompts provided by her, and then a story, 100 words or less.  After a year or so of submitting something like, IDK, about 15-20 flash fiction stories, I won along with another writer.

The word prompts were:

  1. blush
  2. mono
  3. virus
  4. evil
  5. piper

My entry:

The blush of dawn came and summer stretched before them, along with the thought of endless, monotonous hospital treatments.

She watched a sandpiper scurry after a crab, one hand over her chest where evil grew, virus like, insidious.

She said, “Promise?”

He nodded, “Promise.”
Helpless, he watched her grow weaker, until one day, she said, “Today.”

He carried her to the beach, waded in and lowered her down.

She struggled, only a little, but he could see her smiling through his tears.

Later, the doorbell rang, interrupting his anguish.

He answered, and the doctor said, “I’ve made a horrible mistake.”


Here is my co-winner’s entry (which is so creative and hilarious):

Broken shell and yolk lay scrambled on the ground.
“I don’t get it. Humpty wasn’t evil,” Cinderella said. “BTW. Thanks for switching genres to investigate this, Mr. Holmes.”
Sherlock adjusted his monocle. “Always willing to attend to an attractive lass.” Cinderella blushed.
Dopey leaned over the mess. “Careful, lad,” Sherlock cautioned. “Mr. Dumpty frequented the Smurf house. Wouldn’t want you catching a virus.”
“Was he pushed?” Cinderella asks.
The dwarf reaches down, then holds up something round and shiny, like a flat bowl. Sherlock points to it with his pipe.
“No, madam. He was pied. The mark of the Piper.”

I love what JR wrote after the fact:  “It’s always very hard to choose a winner from such varied entries. Whether to recognize innovative style and form, or twisty endings, or just gorgeous prose…impossible to choose.  But this week, I decided that the two entries that drew gasps from me, literally, when I finished reading the entry would be the winners.

I gasped with shock at the last line in the 6:58am entry.  (wheeeeeeee!)

And I gasped with laughter at the last line in the shtrum 12:00noon entry.  (me too!)

Donna and Shtrum if you’ll email me your mailing address and the kind of books you like to read I’ll send you your prize for winning this week’s contest.  Congratulations!”

And there it is…two goals met within days of each other.

I  love that, don’t you? 

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