HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I remember running. Before I blew out my knees. I started with once up and once down Charles Street--do you know it? On Beacon Hill in Boston, a tiny slice of London-looking shops and beautiful brownstones. And, I'd say, three blocks long.
At first, I could barely make it up and back. I was winded, panting, a wreck. But I kept at it. After all, I'd gotten the shoes and the little shorts.
And soon, I was going up and back, then up and back again, and before I knew it...well, it was wonderful. I had accomplished something physical, very unusual for me, and I was so surprised about it! And then my knees started to hurt and so much for that.
But I know running was a marvelous way to clear my head.
Now. Part 2. You know how you sometimes meet a person who's completely a kindred spirit? That's how I feel about Clare O'Donohue.Yes, we're both in TV, different parts of TV, but we know the biz and care about it. And we both write mysteries, and we both love...well, lots of similar stuff. Clare is on her second mystery series, (just as I am). Her first one, very very succesful, is about quilting! (mine isn't, but I love quilts.)
Her new one is about TV. Isn't this irresistible? Listen to this about MISSING PERSONS:
Crime TV producer Kate Conway’s job is simple. Create episodes of "true crime" television where the truth doesn't matter as much as a good story. ...There's a lot more. But who needs more. That's a fantastic hook. I mean--we all know reality shows are made up, right? Or...are they?
Anyway, now part one, running, and part 2, Clare, cleverly merge together. Meet Clare. Who, today, says:
I've got nothing on my mind.
by Clare O'Donohue
I just got back from my morning run. Believe me, no one is more shocked than I am that I actually get out of bed every morning, pull on some gym shoes and, with the little sticky crusts still in the corners of my sleepy eyes, head to the local park.
I’d been walking every day for a long time but never bothered to run. That looked like too much work. But one day for no reason at all, I just went for it.
I think I ran about 300 feet before my lungs gave out. The next day, I did it again. This time I slowed to about the same as if I was walking, and that helped a lot. Sure, I looked like I was running in slo-mo, and maybe the occasional duck would waddle past, going faster than I was, laughing at my pathetic attempt to keep pace with him. (Don’t let the feathers fool you, ducks can be bitchy.)
I persevered, and every day since I’ve increased my distance little by little until I actually run more than I walk these days. And I run faster, while still keeping my lungs inside my body.
(Who’s laughing now, duck?)
I think a lot. Like every other writer, I’m living multiple lives at once – mine, of course, as well as a lot of fictional ones. There are a dozen lives in the two series I currently write and there all the characters waiting for their turns in the books I hope to write someday. It gets crowded in my brain with all the murders, and romances, and mayhem.
And sometimes it gets a little exhausting. Making it worse, my imagination has a tendency to wander into my own life and create little dramas to stew over. “The mechanic is going to tell me that my car needs some expensive repair,” I used to tell myself on what was supposed to be a peaceful morning walk. “There’s no way I’m putting more money into that old clunker and if he’s trying to rip me off…” The poor mechanic was getting silently slandered while I fought a fight that hadn’t even happened, and in all likelihood wouldn’t happen.
But when I run, I’m focused on only two things, getting around the track without stopping, and not falling down. Everything else just goes away. When I finish, my body is tired, but my brain is refreshed. It’s easier for me to let go of the imaginary arguments and useless information, and focus on important stuff – like the plot of my next book, or where I put my glasses.
I mentioned this amazing experience to a friend of mine over deep dish pizza one day. (Okay, so I’m not a health fanatic.) “You should write a book about a killer who uses his morning jog to look for his next victim,” she suggested.
It’s a great idea, and I’ll probably think about. A lot. Except tomorrow morning when I take my run.
HANK: Told you. So, Reds--how do you clear your brain?
And we'll give away a signed copy of Clare's brand new book--coming soon!--Life Without Parole to one lucky commenter.
Clare O'Donohue is the author of Missing Persons, the first in the Kate Conway Mysteries, as well as four novels in the Someday Quilts series. She also works as a television producer on documentaries for A&E, the History Channel, truTV and others. Her next book, Life Without Parole, will be released April 24th.