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Jenn: Running and Writing

Hi all, it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Summer was crazy with teaching, then my daughter, parents, and I spent 3 weeks in very remote coastal Maine and New Brunswick.  No phones, no internet, no tv, bliss.  Now I’m back in the swing of things, and the textbook is progressing rapidly.  I have 20 chapters total, and have submitted 10 of them in final draft form to the publisher.  The next 10 are transitioning quickly from rough to final, and I anticipate getting the whole thing in by the end of the year.  Yay!  It’s been so much fun to write this book, and I feel like it’s made me a better teacher as well.

The frustrating thing is that I don’t feel like my publishing company and editors have been giving the book enough time and attention.  The editors keep saying they’re going to be sending along comments soon, but nothing ever comes.  I am trying to be patient, as my rough draft deadline isn’t until July 09.  They may not have budgeted time this soon to spend on my project.  But the other concern I have is that this company doesn’t do the promoting that some of the big companies do.  When I told my representative at a big company I do a lot of business with that I am writing this book, she just about killed me for not asking her company to publish it.  I think it would sell MUCH more with that firm, but I’ve already signed a contract.  Does anyone have any idea how to navigate these waters?  Can one get out of a contract?

Also, I’m still running like crazy, last weekend I ran a 5K on Sat and a 1/2 marathon on Sunday.  I don’t usually do 5K’s, because my rule is to never run a race it takes longer to get to than it does to run.  But this one was sponsored by the University where I’m employed, and it was very close to my house.  I ran it too fast, which made the run the next day quite painful.  But it is the 1/2 marathon I wanted to write about here. It was the Maine Coast 1/2 Marathon, and only women are allowed to enter.  There’s a “significant other 5K” and one man, chosen from a lottery, got to run with us.

It was a spectacular race, highlighted by the fact that Kathrine Switzer was the emcee.  She has the distinction of being the first woman registered for the Boston Marathon, and many people recall the photos of Jock Semple (race director) attempting to physically yank her off the course once he found out a “girl” was running his race.  She’s since ran several marathons, and now organized races and does a lot of event speaking.  She’s written three books, and was signing and selling books at this race.  I purchased “Marathon Woman,”  which was a great book for the first two thirds.  By the end, it started to read like the acknowledgements section… too many names, dates, places, and races that stopped being as riveting as the first half of the book.

But Kathrine Switzer is a great example of a sort-of mom (a stepson entered her life fairly late in his teenage years) who is able to balance work, writing, running, and family magnificently.  She’s 62 years old and looks about 45.  She’s slim, solid, and exudes happiness and grace.  She also wrote “Running and Walking for Women Over 40,” which is a great starting book for those wanting to get into the sport.  I find that my best ideas are hatched while running, and my best actual writing is done immediately after running… all that oxygen in the brain.  If I’m ever stuck on something, even a quick 2-miler is guaranteed to free up any writer’s block.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Cathy #

    that’s a nice idea, i’m sure my brain could use more oxygen these days. now to get my legs moving….

    wish i could help on the navigating contracts, i’m just starting out on the pro end of the range myself. miranda may have a little know how in that area….

    September 29, 2008
  2. Great to see you back here, Jenn!

    Does your contract specify terms for nullification? Depending on your relationship they might be willing to just let you go on repayment of the advance (assuming there was one). It depends a lot on how much time they’ve already put into the development process. Of course if there is any way you can demonstrate that the publisher is in breach of contract by not holding up their end of the deal, that would help.

    Obviously, telling your publisher that you want to back out of the deal will sour the relationship that you DO have, regardless of whether or not they’re willing to let you go–so be SURE you have another solid deal lined up beforehand!

    If your current publisher balks and you can’t show that they’re in breach of contract, you’re pretty much stuck. You can talk to a lawyer, but if the original publisher is gung ho on your book they could well sue you for publishing elsewhere and you wouldn’t have much defense if they haven’t been negligent (specific to the terms of your agreement).

    Kudos on the running. Me: 5K race this coming weekend. I’ll probably finish in about half your regular 5K time…

    September 29, 2008
  3. I love that tip about running and creativity, Jenn … good advice.

    Regarding the contract … did you accept an advance? It might be worth speaking to an attorney to see if you might be able to get out of it without consequences. Is there any area in which they have not performed? On the other hand if they are counting on your title and may have turned down other works, I think they’d have an expectation for you to follow through.


    September 29, 2008
  4. trickylittleimp #

    Totally agree about running and creativity! And if you feel just a little bit on the grey side, or a bit moochy/moody, there is nothing like it to help you feel like you’ve reclaimed the world and it’s all yours to play with!

    September 30, 2008
  5. caseycairo #

    Thanks, Miranda, and everyone else for your comments. I wrote to my rep at the other company (the one I’m NOT contracted with) who put out feelers to the Geoscience editor. The editor said they’re “always interested in new and good books, but there are legal and ethical questions involved in this situation. It can’t help to be vaguely encouraging, but we can’t really talk to the author about writing for us until she has been released from her current gig.”

    So this means I drop a sure thing at a half-assed company for the hopes that a great company will pick me up? The other major companies already have the same type of book I’m writing, so there aren’t many other places to shop it out to. Eek….

    September 30, 2008

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