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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Just One More

Today is the 52nd day of the year. You know how I know this? Because this morning I did 52 push-ups and 52 sit-ups.

Why? You may ask.

Well, I had this idea, back in December. It was a pretty simple idea, one day when I was staring at a blank screen wondering what should come next in the book I am writing. Sometimes when I am (not) writing, I berate myself a little, until I realize that is what I am doing and stop myself.

I was in the midst of thinking, not only do I not know what happens next in this book, I am not even sure what is happening in this chapter. I don't even know how to string words into a sentence. I can't even do a full set of push-ups!


So what?

Who cares if I can do a full set of push-ups? What even is a full set of push-ups?

I wonder how many push-ups I can do.

But I could not satisfy my curiosity because I have a writing rule that says I have to keep my butt in the chair (I have a lovely acronym for it that goes after the phrase "writing is a ..." but will not share that because it is not appropriate for all audiences. If you have guesses, you may email them to me, and winners will get free signed bookplates.)

Anyway, that got me to thinking about if I can do x push-ups today, surely tomorrow I could do x + 1. And that was the genesis of JUST ONE MORE.

On New Years Eve I told some friends my idea. They are good enough friends that I knew they would be supportive but also tease me if I failed, which they good-naturedly assured me I would, before the end of February.

On January 1, I did one sit-up and one push-up. It was kind of funny. So my husband joined me. On January 2, we did 2 sit-ups and 2 push-ups. And on through January. By the second week in January, my right shoulder started aching. It occurred to me that I might have to give up the push-up part. But I watched my husbands push-ups, saw that his hands were spread further than mine, and tried his stance. It felt better. I persevered. Ha! Take that, friends!

So here we are, at day 52. I had decided I was not humiliating myself by going public with this dare I've given myself until I passed day 50. My son pointed out that I am 1/7th of the way there (easy math -- 52 weeks a year, 7 days...) so that's pretty good. We'll see.

I HATE push-ups, btw. But, I guess, I love a challenge. If I can do this, I will be so strong by summer, to say nothing of next year. But more than that, it's this idea of starting slow and just building that appeals to me. Seems like a metaphor. Maybe a metaphor for writing a book -- which seems, from the start, every single time to me like an absolutely impossible goal. But every day you chip away at it, make it a little better than yesterday... I don't know. Maybe not a perfect metaphor.

I just deleted about 30 pages, after all.

The push-ups and sit-ups, once they're done, are done. No deleting.

Maybe that's the fun of it. Getting something absolutely done, every day.

Have you taken on a challenge yet this year? Want to join me in this one? Start at one today. And let me know. We'll cheer each other on.

(The pictures are not of me. Those will come soon. Results may vary.)

Rachel Vail


  1. Oops, I meant that my shoulder got sore the second week in FEBRUARY. Not the second week in January. I mean, seriously, I am wimpy. But not THAT wimpy.

  2. Hi, Rachel. Just came across your blog doing some research about author visits. Went to Georgetown too (CAS 89) and remember your name from theatre stuff. Work at Simon & Schuster now. Your website is great!