Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sweat Scholarships Ripe for the Picking

Since I crossed the finish line of the first annual Run for Grub about two months ago:
  • my running regimen has been downgraded from militant to pleasant,
  • I've reminded myself that music is more than just a collection of beats driving my feet, and
  • that toenail I was so worried about losing? Totally lost.
What HASN'T been lost is the four Grub Street scholarships I ran this race to fund in the first place (make some noise for the generosity of all our sponsors, please!)

If you're looking to join a family of writers in Boston.

If the writing project nearest and dearest to you could use a gentle kick in the pants.

If your writerly spirit is willing but your bank account is weak, the Run for Grub Scholarship may be for you:

WHAT: Run for Grub is a set of four scholarships covering the cost of a 10- or 6-week Grub Street workshop of your choice.

You must either be taking your first multi-week workshop at Grub Street OR taking your first multi-week workshop in a genre that is new to you (i.e. you are a fiction writer taking screenwriting for the first time, or a poet taking a memoir class, etc).

Send runforgrub@grubstreet.org a one-page, single-spaced letter in 12-point font. The letter should detail how you'd benefit from taking a Grub Street class and include your bio and your familiarity with writing workshops (at Grub or other schools).

Applications must be received by October 15th, 2010 at 5pm EST.

A letter, people! Just a letter! You could have this whole application wrapped up faster than it takes to fill out one of those silly Facebook questionnaires. And really. If I can run 26.2 miles, you can certainly write one stinking page.

We'll even let you keep all your toenails.

For complete scholarship information, visit the Run for Grub Scholarships page on the Grub Street Web site.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Hollywood Ending

The race kicked off at 7:07 p.m. and endedfor me, anywaywith choking sobs eight laps and almost six hours later. I want to tell you the story, I do. But at a party once, Michelle Seaton, a wise Grub Street instructor, told me that the biggest mistake essayists can make is trying to write about seismic life events while they're still feeling aftershocks. That's sound advice, but as a blogger, I don't really have the luxury of time to process the event,and yet I've put off writing about the big race this entire, sore-muscled day. Because besides the blisters, the aching legs, and the surreal realization that when I stepped over the finish line very early this morning I transformed from marathon trainee to marathon finisher, I'm not sure what else to tell you, exactly. Not sure what to share. And then when I feel like I've gotten anywhere close to the heart of what it is I do want to say, I'm not sure anyone would believe me.

Should I tell you about the hell of lap one, when I found myself in a crush of runners pushing me faster than I'd practiced? About the stitch that came on like a vice at mile two? About reminding myself this was my race, my pace, and falling into my rhythmmine before the lap was through?

Should I tell you about the swarms of microscopic harpies that dive bombed medive-bombed all the runners, really—during lap two and filled me with dread about a nuisance I could have avoided if I'd thought to included some Deep Woods Off in my bag of marathon tricks?

Should I mention how the text messages wishing me well started at the start of lap three with a chuckle-inducing reference to The Karate Kid? Should I mention the car of people who screamed my name at the very start of the race? The army of people who were there to cheer me on at every lap? The way my husband called me champ and handed me water bottles, tops pre-loosened? The way my heart swelled at the sight of signs with my name on them, my dog's name on them, Grub's name on them? The way the roar of support as I finished the first half of the race gave me such a boost that the first lap of the second half of my race was the absolute easiest of them all?

Do I mention how downing about 24 ounces of water per lap forced a port-o-potty break after lap 5 even though I knew full well that stopping would make it much harder to get going again? Do I tell you how uncomfortable it was trying to run after pulling sweaty, wet spandex up into a position that just didn't match the grooves the spandex had made through the first five laps of the race? How the only other time I stopped during the race was the 30 seconds I took to frantically try and right said sweaty, wet spandex?

Should I tell you about how the fastest runners didn't give me a second thought, but the medium-speed runners who passed me looked back and yelled: Good job or Just a little more or Looking strong? Do I tell you about making friends with David, a runner in the ultra marathon category, who was in a run-walk pattern that meant we kept passing and being passed by each other? Do I tell you how I lost David after the start of lap 5? That I can't decide if it was his knee brace or my pee break that broke our little 13.1-mile dance?

Do I mention the torture of muscles aching at lap 6 and the hum of pain in my feet and knees that settled in halfway through lap 7? The way I took a breath and forced my thoughts to stay the hell in my head just my head, dammitliterally convincing myself that my legs, though down there, didn't need my attention right now and the only body part I cared about just then were the parts from the neck up? Do I try and explain that turning myself into bobble-head me worked beautifully when I don't really understand the first thing about how I made 90 percent of me disappear? Do I explain how bauble- head-me kept my head on the things I wanted to think abouthow far I've come in a yearwhile the text messages pouring in made sure I was buoyed by the bigger picture: this run was a fundraiser for Grub Street.

Do I tell you about how I realized that some people were lapping me, others I was lapping, and still others—long lost David among themkept passing me and letting me pass them? Should I mention how this reminded me that this race was like writing a novel that way: it doesn't matter how many people get to the finish line before or after you, your pace is your pace is your pace?

Do I tell you about the way I entered the last lap with a certainty that no matter what my knee was doing down there, I was going to finish this thing? Do I tell you how weepy I got about everyone who supported me out there? The way I realized that for all the joking I've done about how running a marathon is easier than writing a book because there are clear schedules for marathon training, that I realized that I've gone and come to the end of the Run for Grub road with a revamped outline of the second half of my revision that looks a hell of a lot like a training scheduledo this, then this, then this.

Do I tell you about the personal journey of that last lap? The way my mind cast back to one year ago when I was forty pounds heavier and barely able to run three miles? Do I tell you how I choked up at mile 25 because holy mother of sweat monkeys, I was two-thirds of the way through the last lap and really, actually, for reals, yo, about to finish my first marathon?

Do I tell you about the way I totally lost it and burst into tears on coming to the marker that told me I had finished 26 miles? The one that meant I had a measly .22 miles to go? One last corner to round? Do I mention the way the runners around me slowed and turned to make sure that sobbing-puddle-'o'-Cathy wasn't in dire distress, the way I waved them on by telling them I was almost done, the way they let me be, the way I pulled it together and ran that last little spit of road for everything running had won for me this yearmy health, my renewed confidence in my book, my commitment to Grub Street?

I could tell you all those things, but as Michelle would warn, it will come out sounding pretty much exactly like the first draft of a diary entry that this little rant has turned out to be. But for a blog entry made just about 24 hours after finishing my first marathon, that's OK with me. I should hope that's OK with you.

What I think I'll leave you with is the perfect Hollywood ending every fiction workshop I've had at Grub Street would encourage me to avoid. But in this case, this story is mine. And I think I've more than earned the right to share my Hollywood ending.

You know.

The one where I cross the finish line and see my husband walking toward me, arms stretched out. The one where I fall into his hug and really cryfor everything I've mentioned above and the swarm of emotions that are still too raw for me to translate with a keyboardwhile he asks me again and again to talk to him, let him know that the tears are about joy and not pain. The one where for several seconds, all I can do is nod and cry in the cool, cool night.

On July 30, Catherine Elcik ran her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, an independent writing center in Boston, MA. Donations can still be made at www.firstgiving.com/runforgrub.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day Of...

I've been wonderfully swamped with well-wishers today--flowers and phone calls and texts, oh my!--so the lollygagging I'd planned to do over the day-of-the-marathon entry didn't really happen. But I'm feeling strong and spooked and excited in about equal measure, which means feeling great has the majority and I'm all about majority rules. In the last forty-five minutes left before I leave for the race, I need to double check that I've packed everything (no barefoot running for me, thanks), down enough water to make the pH in my stomach hospitable for most freshwater fish, and watch the finale of The Karate Kid one more time.

Yeah, I know a karate tournament and a marathon aren't exactly kissing cousins, but the way I figure it, the metaphor holds up on three counts:
  1. if the little demon in my head so much as hisses the words tired or quit or sore, I'll sweep his devilish little leg;
  2. the crane kick's all the metaphor I need for digging deep and pushing through when (if!) I feel beat; and
  3. I'm hoping Mr. Miyagi's voice will make an appearance in my brain somewhere around lap 7:
Miyagi have hope for you!
And with that, I'm off to go take my mark...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rocky Balboa's Got Nuthin' on Ralph

Everything I read about what I'm supposed to be doing in this last week of training says I should be taking it easy by watching uplifting movies like Rocky and Chariots of Fire and Prefontaine. Which would be well and good except that I heard Steve Prefontaine died in a taken-too-soon car crash. And even though his death was completely unrelated to running, dead marathoners are not really the vibe I'm looking for two days before my race.

The vibe I do want? A little more magical realistic. A little more breathlessly rooting that the fantastically ridiculous longshot will pull through. A little more outting me as the complete sap I am when it comes to competition movies (this dates back to the time in my latchkey phase when my sister and I wore out the videotape we'd used to steal The Karate Kid from Cinemax).

So when I read that Saint Ralph was about a fifties-era freshman who fixates on the idea that winning the Boston Marathon was just the miracle he needed to rouse his mother from her coma, I was all over that shit.

You remember that stereotype of the frat boy who gets drunk at a party, starts hanging off his friends, and screams "I love you, man?" Yeah. So that was totally me from the moment the gun goes off at the marathon and Ralph gets busy run, run, running. Because the thing was, you see, that the people at home were listening on their transistor radios.

I mean, like, all of them.

And yes, I know that no sports movie is complete without the required quick cuts to all the motley fans listening in cars, in classrooms, and in any weird place the director decides will fly, really. But in this particular movie, those supporters were Grub Street.

Grub Street's been called a lot of things by all the people who have done Q&As and essays for the Grub Tales section of this blog, but so far no one's mentioned how the community at Grub buoys its writers with all the energy of a fan-support montage in a competition movie. The only difference is that where love for Ralph was total Hollywood fabrication, Grub love is real.

The amount of well-wishing I've received this week has been totally humbling. And I'm downright gobsmacked at the number of people who are planning to show up in Wakefield on Friday night to support me. Though given my weepy reaction to Saint Ralph, I need to renew my warning about the likelihood of tears: I may well turn into a blubbering shell of myself after crossing the finish line.

You know.

Assuming I've got any water left in me at all after sweating for five to six hours.

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, an independent writing center in Boston, MA.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Grub Tales: Lisa Borders

Lisa Borders’ first novel, Cloud Cuckoo Land, was chosen by Pat Conroy as the winner of River City Publishing’s Fred Bonnie Award for Best First Novel and was published in 2002. Cloud Cuckoo Land also received fiction honors in the 2003 Massachusetts Book Awards. Her second novel, The Fifty-First State, is represented by Svetlana Katz at Janklow & Nesbit. Lisa has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and her short stories have appeared in Kalliope, Washington Square, Black Warrior Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Newport Review and other journals. Her essay "Enchanted Night" was published in Don't You Forget About Me: Contemporary Writers on the Films of John Hughes (Simon & Schuster, 2007). She has received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Somerville Arts Council and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Hedgebrook and the Blue Mountain Center. This fall she will be a fellow at the Millay Colony. More information on Lisa and her work is available at www.lisaborders.com.

RUN FOR GRUB: What has Grub Street meant to you?
Lisa Borders: When I say that Grub Street is my home, I don’t mean it as a metaphor. My Oxford American Dictionary gives one of the meanings for “home” as “a place where something flourishes.” I can’t think of a better way to describe my relationship to Grub Street, and I can’t think of any other place that fits, for me, that particular definition of “home.”

RUN FOR GRUB: What's your most magical Grub Street memory?

Lisa Borders: The one that stands out in my mind is from a Novel in Progress class I taught a few years ago. On one of the last nights we were meeting, four people read revisions of scenes we’d already workshopped. From one student to the next, the revised versions were quantum leaps better than the previous versions. It truly felt magical when the fourth student began reading, and his scene was as amazingly transformed as the others. “I have chills!” someone called out when that last student had finished reading. “My work here is done – you’re all amazing!” I said. The entire class was so jazzed we ended up talking for an hour past the time the class ended. It’s such a gift for a teacher to see incredible progress like that within the time frame of a ten-week course. In keeping with the magic of that class, I happen to know that several of those writers are still meeting as a group.

RUN FOR GRUB: Grub Street almost closed in 2001, but--thank goodness--it reinvented itself as a nonprofit instead. What would you have lost if Grub had withered away eight years ago?
Lisa Borders: Before I made the decision to chuck more sensible professions and become a fiction writer, I’d always felt like I didn’t quite fit anywhere. I went to my graduate creative writing program hoping I’d find that home of other writers, that place where people got me – “a place where something flourishes” – but didn’t find it there, either. I’d almost given up on ever finding that elusive home when I stumbled upon Grub Street. This amazing institution has nurtured me both as a writer and as a teacher of writing. Many of my closest friends are people I met through Grub. Almost everything good that has happened to me in the past eight years is linked, directly or indirectly, to Grub Street. The thought of a life without Grub sounds postapocalyptic to me – bleak and lonely.

RUN FOR GRUB: Can you believe we’ve known each other almost nine years?
Lisa Borders: Actually, I feel like I’ve known you longer! You’re in that category in my mind with the friends who go way, way back.

RUN FOR GRUB: I was in one of your first classes, which means you were the first face of Grub for me. This isn’t so much a question, but a thank you for seeing a spark of something in me, nurturing it without extinguishing it, and being loyal for all these many years.
Lisa Borders: I’ve remained loyal because I can’t wait for your amazing novel, Misfit Kings, to be a runaway bestseller – after which I plan to walk around boasting that you were once my student! All kidding aside, it’s been amazing to see both your writing and our friendship develop over the past decade. The appreciation for the support and loyalty goes both ways.

RUN FOR GRUB: RUNaway bestseller! Ha! Kidding aside, right back at ya. And to any novelists in Grubdom, know this: working on a novel on your own is like running on a treadmill; working on your book while enrolled in one of Lisa’s novel-in-progress classes is like running on a pristine beach with your favorite tunes and just the right amount of seabreeze to refresh you.

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, an independent writing center in Boston, MA.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Celebrity Death Match: Simon verses Elvis

Glancing at my marathon playlist (See The Playlist I Literally Sweated Over), most people can't help but notice that tracks from Paul Simon and Elvis Presley dominatesongs from Elvis, Paul Simon, and Simon & Garfunkel account for 17 of the 98 songs on the playlist, and that total creeps to 20 if you include the three tracks from Harper Simon as Paul Simon tracks which I do. I'm all for letting kids of superstars make their own way in this world, but Harper's voice sounds like such a Paul Simon clone I had to check the liner notes to make sure it wasn't Paul Simon singing.

That means that a little more than 20 percent of the music that will carry me along on race day belongs to one of these two men. Who, then, is the King of the playlist? Who is my Mr. Marathon? Paul Simon gets the advantage in number of tracks, but Elvis is the King of Rock. This was a question that would need further investigation. This was a question that would need a death match!

Round # 1—Volume
Elvis' nine songs pale next to the 11 songs I'm attributing to Paul. Unfair because Paul Simon didn't write any of Harper Simon's songs you say? Elvis didn't write any of the music that made him rich, either (not even the few early hits that were credited to him).

Point goes to Paul Simon.

Round # 2—Longevity of My Obsession
I've been a Paul Simon freak since 1992, and though I liked Elvis fine when he came on the radio, I didn't start obsessing until 2001.

Point goes to Paul Simon.

Round # 3—Muse-like Qualities of the Music
I'll fight anyone who tells me that there's a more poetic songwriter than Paul Simon alive today (and I question the existence of your musical soul if you can listen to the live version of "The Cool, Cool River" without getting goosebumps at the end when he repeats the line: "sometimes even music cannot substitute for tears"), but it was an Elvis song that planted the seeds of the novel I'm revising. Sorry, Paul.

Point goes to Elvis.

Round # 4—Gateway
Whose music is a bigger gateway: Paul Simon introducing the world to African tribal music and the rhythms of South African drumming or Elvis blowing through what until that point had been largely segregated musical styles and introducing the world to rock 'n roll so definitively that even though historians will quibble about what was truly the first rock record, few will mount a real contest to Elvis's King of Rock title? Man. Those VH1 pundits make spinning definitive statements from subjective sociology look sooo easy. I don't want to take the clear point-awarded-to-both cop out, but I will defer to the Boss on this. Bruce Springsteen never got escorted from Paul Simon's door, but he did hop the fence at Graceland and get intercepted as he made a break for Elvis's front door.

Because the Boss is, well, the boss, point goes to Elvis.

Round # 5—First-name fame
Paul Simon tried so hard to get the world to call him Al, and while most people know who Paul Simon is (though a depressingly large percentage of my students do NOT know this name), if my husband said he listened to Paul yesterday, I'd tell him it's always good to listen to his boss. If my husband told me he was listening to Elvis, however, I'd ask him who he was and what has he done with the man I married (not such a fan, that one).

Point goes to Elvis.

Round # 6—Sex Appeal
OK, I guess technically Elvis is the shoe in here. The problem is I was born in 1975 which means I basically only know Elvis in retrospective photos. Yes, teenage Elvis exuded sex on stage, and sure Elvis could wear him some black leather pants, but I've also seen him in photos from the seventies where he was sporting a floppy terrycloth fisherman's cap, about 50 extra pounds, and a goofy George-W-esque expression on his face. And Paul Simon? Um.

A grudging point to Elvis, I guess. Because he was sexy at least once in his life.

Round #7—Songwriting
No surprise here. Paul Simon wrote the vast majority of the music he recorded and Elvis, though a master of the arrangement, did not. Given that I'm a writer running to help writers, it should come as no shock that Paul Simon will get the nod here.

3 points to Paul Simon. Just because.

So there you have it:
Paul Simon: 5 points
Elvis Presley: 4 points.
I think it's fair to say that we've proven in a totally non-biased evaluation that Paul Simon has earned the title of Mr. Marathon.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Grub Tales: Ron MacLean

Ron MacLean is author of the story collection Why the Long Face? (2008) and the novel Blue Winnetka Skies (2004). His fiction has appeared in GQ, Greensboro Review, Fiction International, Night Train, Other Voices and other quarterlies. He is a recipient of the Frederick Exley Award for Short Fiction and a multiple Pushcart Prize nominee. He holds a Doctor of Arts from the University at Albany, SUNY, and has been a proud part of team Grub since 2004.

RUN FOR GRUB: What has Grub Street meant to you?
RON MacLEAN: A writing home; a place to teach at a high level with students who are serious about the craft and colleagues (and students) who challenge and inspire me; a community of friends; an organization I care deeply about giving back to.

RUN FOR GRUB: Can you define your Grub community?
RON MacLEAN: I’ve always looked at Grub Street as – and tried to help make it – a home for writers in the Boston area. So I define my Grub community in light of that. Whoever defines themselves as a writer in the Boston area. Whoever comes to visit is a guest in that home. It’s one of the things I love about Grub as a destination: if you’re there, whether as a student, an instructor, a party-goer, a guest at the Muse, whatever – you’re part of the community. It’s a big, open free-floating network, in the best sense of that word.

RUN FOR GRUB: Grub Street almost closed in 2001, but--thank goodness--it reinvented itself as a nonprofit instead. What would you have lost if Grub had withered away eight years ago?
RON MacLEAN: Half my friends. Most of my moral support. My favorite place to teach. My clubhouse. And one of the few institutions that helps me believe anything is possible.

RUN FOR GRUB: Have you ever complained at a bookstore because the manager wasn’t stocking enough books by Grub Street writers on the shelves?
RON MacLEAN: YES! How did you know?

RUN FOR GRUB: So a little bird tells me you hate running but stand behind marathon crazy. Any shot you’ll consider running with me if I do this again next year?
RON MacLEAN: No, no, and absolutely no. If, however, you want to do a century bike ride, we can talk.

RUN FOR GRUB: I'm sensing some, um, resistance on your part around the whole running thing, though I have to say the idea of a century bike ride has me cocking my head like an intrigued puppy. Especially given that I haven't had so much as a nibble in response to my request for company should I decide to repeat the marathon next year. Alas, Peddle for Prose doesn't have quite the same ring to it as Run for Grub does...

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, an independent writing center in Boston, MA.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Race Details for Run for Grub Groupies

This week, Run for Grub officially hit its fundraising goal and raised enough money to cover the cost of workshops for four writers who want to try a Grub Street class for the first time (or four current Grub Street students who want to try a class in a genre that's new to them). In a digital-age version of pinch me, I keep calling up www.firstgiving.com/runforgrub just so I can blink at the full thermometer up top.

Yup, I think. We're still at 100 percent!

But as much as I lost my mind when I reached the goal (a certain Grub Street board member whose donation happened to put me over the edge can attest that our Facebook chat devolved to digital squealing on my part at the exact moment I knew it was true), I'm currently gobsmacked by the number of people who are planning to cheer me on come race day. Even after I remind them that my target finishing time is somewhere between 5 and 6 hours, they grin. Some of them are gonna be there to see me off; others will show up at the end of their night to see me finish. And a few swear that if I can run for that length of time watching me run is the least they can do.

I'm honored that so many people want to share in the last leg of this crazy pavement pounding journey of mine, but I have to warn you that I'm pretty much guaranteed to be in tears when (when!) I finish (though it's too early to say whether those tears will be of joy, of pain, or some combination therein). So as long as you can resist the temptation to bellow "there's no crying in marathon running!" at me after I cross the finish line, I'm happy to have you on the sidelines cheering me on.

Here are the details:

Race: 24 Hour Around the Lake

Start time: 7 p.m., Friday, July 30

Duration: Last year's female marathon winner did the race in 3:05:27. Clearly she's not nearly as pokey a little puppy as I am. I'm not sure how long it's going to take me given that I slow and slow and slow with every mile. My best guess is that I'll take between 5.5 and 6 hours to finish. Because that's the goal, here. Finishing.

Location: The race course goes around (and around and around and around and around and around and around and around) Lake Quannapowitt* in Wakefield, MA. This is good news for spectators because it means that you can stay right where you are and let me pass (and pass and pass and pass and pass and pass and pass and pass) you by. The race** starts and finishes at:
Lake Lord Wakefield Hotel
595 North Avenue
Wakefield, MA 01880

How's the spectator thing gonna work exactly: Honestly, I don't know. I know. Someone I babysat for when I was younger is planning on making posters, a runner friend is threatening to run beside me during the last lap (despite my honest expectation that an old lady with a walker will be able to keep pace with me during my last lap), and my husband's planning on turning my race into a drinking game.

Yup, you heard me right.

The Lord Wakefield Hotel has a lounge attached. And given that the race starts and stops at the Lord Wakefield and that cheerleading duties (namely positive chatter and the hand off of a fresh water bottle) will only last at most a minute every roughly 35-40 minutes, Mike is threatening to drink between laps effectively turning my marathon into a drinking game that I endorse as long as he a) doesn't miss me passing by in a given lap and b) understands that I'm the only one of us who has a fair claim on needing to be held up at the end of the night.

If you're thinking about going, comment on the blog or send me an email so I can keep watch. I'll make sure Mike wears something that helps him stick out. Perhaps I'll give him a Grub T-shirt or something....

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, an independent writing center in Boston, MA.

* Is it just be or does this photo make the lake look awfully big to be run around 8 times, she said in a fit of pre-race uneasiness...

** I'm not digging the whole calling-it-a-race thing. I think it sets up unrealistic expectations. Basically I'm going out for a (very, very) long jog, and some other uber-fit yahoos are gonna be racing by me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Playlist I (literally) Sweated Over

For the last twelve weeks, the Run for Grub blog has focused on all things marathon. I've groused about the slog, documented every skinned knee, and asked (and asked and asked) for donations. But though I may have led you to believe this blog was an all-access behind-the-scenes-pass to my marathon training, I've been sitting on one humdinger of a lie of omission. In addition to being one part personal physical challenge and one part fundraiser for Grub Street, my marathon has also been a freakishly effective vehicle for some serious musical obsessiveness.

It started when I noticed that certain songs
say "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves, for onehad the power to make me grin even while I was running. Grinning while running? But running's supposed to be the epitome of Puritan angst and suffering, isn't it? Or is serious suffering simply incompatible with giggling at the panting wolf thing Duran Duran's got going on during "Hungry Like the Wolf"?

And so begin my quest to create a playlist of every song that had the power to make me forget I was running. In a blind musical mania, I gathered up more than 9 hours of music and proceeded to systematically winnow that list to 5.5 hours (my guess for how long this marathon thing's gonna take me). I was ruthless. During my training runs, if I reached to fast forward through a song twice, it was gone. A bit harsh? Maybe. But as I said, I was obsessed. For the vast majority of my runs to date, I chose songs to audition, ran with my ears wide open, and then made my cuts when I got home. When I wasn't sure about a song, I dumped it into a test playlist until there was enough music to support a run, and then I gave it a do-or-die audition.

And in that way I reduced my list to 100 titles I absolutely loved, or so I thought. During my 20-mile run on Friday, I turned on two songs I thought were totally safe, so the finally list clocks in at 98 songs. I know I cut some great songs, and I know that there are at least a few songs on here that will get the universal what-was-she-thinking
response, but I don't care. The way I see it, the equation is simple:


But in case you like what you see and want to snap up any of these songs, where possible, I've linked song titles to the Amazon mp3 store where you can download them. And watch out next week when I'll have some musical- themed posts up while Run for Grub is taking a much needed pre-marathon vacation.

So without further ado, my marathon playlist, alphabetically by artist (and if you do decide to buy something, let me know in the comment field so I know I gathered all those links for the greater good):


Dancing Shoes

The Ballad Of John And Yoko
No mp3 available except for a tribute version, so I'm embedding the real deal from YouTube:

Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)

The Weary Kind

Somebody Else
Fallin' & Flyin'

All Over Again
I Walk The Line
Ring of Fire

Time Has Told Me

Hungry Like The Wolf

Hey Man (Now You're Really Living)
Losing Streak
P.S. You Rock My World

Lose Yourself

Fire Escape

Gimme Stitches
Learn To Fly

Chelsea Dagger

Head Rolls Off
Old Old Fashioned

She's A Rebel
This song is one of, like two, that's only available on the albumthank you, Green Dayso I'm embedding the real deal from YouTube:

(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock

The Devil Never Sleeps

Hard Headed Woman

Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way

Are You Gonna Be My Girl
Look What You've Done

A Praise Chorus
The Middle

It's Still Rock And Roll To Me
Summer, Highland Falls
You May Be Right

Saddest news everthis band has called it quits. So here's a video of them doing this song live:

Walking On Sunshine

Bend And Break

Life Is Large

I Can't Stay

My Sharona

Bad Romance

Love Me Or Hate Me

Standin' So Still



Love Today

Let It Go
Unwanted Guest

All My Days

Welcome To The Black Parade

Hey Ya!

Just Breathe - Apparently Eddie doesn't care to play the Amazon game for the Backspacer album, so whatever. Here's a YouTube version:

Lust For Life

Burning Love
For The Heart
Got A Lot O' Livin' To Do!
I Gotta Know
A Little Less Conversation
Mystery Train
Shake, Rattle and Roll
Suspicious Minds-LIVE VERSION

Washed My Hands in Muddy Water

Rye Whiskey

Seven Seas Of Rhye

I'm Gonna DJ
Living Well Is The Best Revenge

Beat On The Brat
Blitzkrieg Bop
I Wanna Be Sedated

Snow Is Gone

BOB SEGER--Because Bob Seger is apparently a bigger luddite than I am, not a single one of his songs is available on Amazon for mp3 download, so I'm linking to the tribute bands I could find:
C'est La Vie
In Your Time
Old Time Rock & Roll

Cactus Flower Rag
Wishes And Stars

American Tune

Gone At Last
Hurricane Eye
Late In The Evening
Me And Julio Down By The School Yard
The Obvious Child

Keep The Customer Satisfied
Baby Driver

Last Nite

No One Knows My Plan
Destination Moon
The End Of The Tour
Don't Let's Start

Joy To The World

Flowers In The Windows

Blister in the Sun

Ready To Die

My Doorbell

Mercy Of The Fallen

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, an independent writing center in Boston, MA.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Grub Tales: Lynne Griffin

Lynne Griffin is the author of the novels Sea Escape (Simon & Schuster, July 2010) and Life Without Summer (St. Martin’s Press, 2009), and the nonfiction parenting title, Negotiation Generation (Penguin, 2007). Lynne teaches family studies at the graduate level and writing at Grub Street Writers in Boston. She appears regularly on Boston’s Fox Morning News talking about family life issues, and she writes for the blog, Family Life Stories.

RUN FOR GRUB: How did you learn about Grub Street?
LYNNE GRIFFIN: After my mother passed away in 2000, I found love letters written to her by my father. Reading them, I went so far as to imagine excerpts of my father’s beautiful writing shining within a novel I might someday write. In those musings, Sea Escape was born. Still I told myself, you've never written fiction. You don’t know the first thing about taking on such an ambitious project, weaving his words into your story. No matter how much I dismissed it, the idea nagged me. For years it wouldn't leave me alone. Characters were named. Plot lines fleshed out. Twenty or so pages written--pages that would eventually become the last chapter of the novel.

The minute I began writing Sea Escape, I knew two things. The first was that I was in love with writing fiction. The second was that I had a lot to learn. So I joined a writers’ group, and at every meeting heard something about Grub Street. Amy MacKinnon, author of Tethered encouraged me to take classes, go to readings, join social events. She said it was where we would find our people, that it was the place to meet talented writers at all stages of the journey. I’d heard about independent writing centers, but had no experience taking classes at one. I took the plunge by signing up for a weekend workshop on aspects of the novel taught by Stace Budzko. To this day, I still use techniques Stace shared in that session.

RUN FOR GRUB: What has Grub Street meant to you?
Learning about craft and navigating the marketplace—living a literary life—is a solitary pursuit, and always a challenging feat. Grub Street is a physical space where I can go to connect with writers aiming for the same goals, contending with the same obstacles to success. Whether it’s commiserating over the struggle to write the perfect sentence or mulling over the ins and outs of the publishing industry, Grub Street is a like-minded community of people I can connect with in person, at classes, and increasingly online. Grub Street has become for me a state of mind. An honest, thoughtful, inspiring, and encouraging place.

RUN FOR GRUB: What's your most magical Grub Street memory?
LYNNE GRIFFIN: Oh, there are so many! I could share sights and sounds and insights from my first Muse and the Marketplace conference or my first manuscript mart, when an editor asked for a full [manuscript]. Or the first craft class I taught. But the most magical moment for me came when I was a student in a class on revision. I’d just finished a first draft of my novel Life Without Summer, and I knew I needed direction in taking on a full scale edit. Hallie Ephron, author of Never Tell a Lie, and a wonderful nonfiction guide to writing, offered a session on revision. At the end of the class, she asked students to share work for critique. Reluctantly—nervously—I agreed to read. When I finished, Hallie said, “Thank you. That quite captured me.” With that one line, she provided enough encouragement to see me through my grueling revision. She made me believe that I had something worth sharing, however small that may be. One line from her had the power to spur me on. I told myself that no matter how much reworking, reimagining, or re-visioning I needed to do, I’d gotten at least that one bit right. Thank you, Hallie. And thanks to Grub Street for hosting guest authors who positively and enthusiastically encourage emerging writers.

Editor's Note: Catch Lynne reading from Sea Escape at Cornerstone Books in Salem on Thursday, July 15 at 7 p.m. or at Newtonville Books on Sunday, July 25 at 2 p.m.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Corners I Didn't Know I Was Cutting

Last night I ran twenty miles. So easy to type and yet so grueling to slog through. Despite the fact that I've not been afflicted with pretty much any of the ailments distance runners seem to complain about (get me some wood and I'll knock it, will ya?) a few dragons reared their heads last night:
  1. friction burns where the seams of my sweat-wet bra rubbed me raw;
  2. gashes in my ankles from the reflector cuffs that were meant to keep me safe;
  3. moments of shooting weakness through my kneesno pain, just a flowing feebleness demanding that I concentrate on the brain messages being sent to keep those legs a pumping; and
  4. a full-blown panic caused by technical malfeasance on the part of my otherwise revered pedometer program for my iPod Nano.
Numbers 1-3 speak for themselves, I think, but let's take a moment to explore number 4. I use a computer attachment for my iPod that's like a pedometer on steroidsI program in a distance I want to run, and in return a computerized woman's voice announces every mile I complete until she congratulates me on reaching my goal. It's been great. There's nothing like the thrill of hearing her bright voice call out "halfway point!" and knowing I'm free to turn back at any time. Because I had to calibrate the machine over a known distance when I bought it, I thought I could trust it, though I must admit that I'd noticed recently on my long runs that the 7-mile marker was shifting a bit, but no matter. I extended my run beyond the halfway point to compensate, and then didn't really worry about it.

But last night the Nano flipped it's rock 'n roll lid.

I knew that I'd built in a little wiggle room into my 4-mile loop because I like to leave some time to stop and walk at the end of the run. But on the first lap, it seemed like the computer had reached four miles far earlier than I thought it had any right to reach it. By lap two when the computer thought I'd gone more than 9 miles when I knew I'd only gone 8, I was out-and-out worried, and when I finished the fourth lap and my pedometer thought I only had .75 miles left to go instead of the roughly four miles I knew I had left, I was pretty demoralized.

Inside after my run, I traced my route on Gmaps pedometer to find that my four-mile loop was in fact 4.1799 miles. That means that in my five laps around this loop, I went 20.8995 milesnot the 24.62 miles my iPod thought I'd gone. When my blood ran cold it had nothing to do with the air-conditioned air hitting my sweat-soaked body and everything to do with a very simple question: how many of my training runs has my pedometer program completely muffed up?

Last night my nearly 21 miles took me about four and a half hours. But when I click back through old stats, I see that last week's "18" mile route only took me three and a half hours. So if I'm to believe I went 18 miles last week, I've also got to believe that it took me an extra hour to go two extra miles last night.

My husband points out that some of the time lag can be accounted for in hillsmy normal long-run route has only one hill in it while the loop I did last night had 20 (the four hills I went up five times ). Oh, come now. I've never said I was anything but slow-slow-slow, but there's no way a few molehills added an extra hour to my time unless I just so happen to be the love child of a giant sloth and a garden slug. I am not. Clearly my computer has been letting me down, and I gotta say learning that now is freaking me the hell out.

Yes, I ran almost 21 miles last night. And yes I jogged for four and a half straight hours, but learning that I may have cut corners I had no idea I was cutting makes me worry that I haven't been conditioning myself quite as thoroughly as I thought I'd been.

At the end of my run last night, I had trouble walking in a straight line. I had to shower sitting in my tub because standing made me feel nauseous. And I was so wiped out that my husband found me face down on our bed with my glasses still on and my body no where near under the covers. What if I was zonked because I haven't been adequately prepared for this distance? How is it I could work this hard for this long and still feel like a cheater?

But, but, but!

I'm reminded by the small, wise voice within that the real headline here is that I ran almost 21 miles and lived to tell about it. My inner runner has taught my inner writer so much over the last few months, but maybe now it's time for the writer to return to the favor. Realizing that the long runs I've done maybe haven't been up to snuff, well my inner writer has been there and done that. Because my inner writer has workshopped stories she thought were close to done only to have trusted readers tell her with a beautiful and firm kindness: No, sweetie. Not so much.

My inner writer knows how to dig deep. My inner writer knows how to find a way to go those extra miles she thought she'd already covered. And my inner writer knowsoh, how she knowsthat that the difference between quitters and finishers is quite simply about refusing to take herself out of the race.

So maybe I didn't run as many miles as I thought I did in the last few months of training. Maybe that's true. But last night I know I ran 20. 8995 miles with nothing more serious to complain about the than a couple of scrapes, some friction burns, and quads that scream uncle every time I try to go down the stairs.

But, but, but!

Last night I ran 20.8995 miles.
Tomorrow I'll run 5.
And on July 30, I'll run 26.2.

I just will.

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, an independent writing center in Boston, MA. Sponsor the run (and quite frankly, her second wind) at www.firstgiving.com/runforgrub.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Last Long Run

At 7 p.m. I'll head out for my last long training run, the 20-miler.* The program I'm following recommends treating the 20-mile race like a dress rehearsaleat what you'll eat, start when you'll start, etc. But when I found out how hot is was supposed to be this week, I told my husband I'd probably just do my 6 a.m. thing.

"Yeah, but what if it's that hot the day of your race?" my husband asked.

I stared at him. "Are you seriously suggesting I choose to run in this oppressive ridiculousness when I don't actually have to?"

"I'm just saying it might be good practice," he said. "Plus this'll give you a chance to get used to running as the sun's going down."


"And if you pick a loop around the house, I can bring water down and cheer you on."

I sighed. As much as I hated to admit it, the man was talking sense, so I said goodbye to my dreams of one last run from Winthrop into Nahant and decided the 20-miler will be done in five laps around my 4-miles-and-change loop.

So here I sit, obsessively checking the temperatureweather.com says it's 86 now and with 82 projected for 7 p.m.—and praying for a quick thunderboomer to ride in like a knight in shining silver lining and chase away ten degrees or so. I'm not holding my breath.

But I may be procrastinating.

All right, all right. In a few minutes I'll wrap up here and start to get dressed. I'll prep my iPod and HOLY MOTHER OF THOR, I JUST REMEMBERED BY IPOD'S NOT ACTUALLY CHARGED!!! Excuse me one teensy moment, would you?

Please imagine 60 seconds of annoying Muzak.

That's better. Tunes are charging as we speak. But holy crap was THAT a near miss!

And though my nerves at the thought of twenty miles tonight make me want to stay right here chatting with you all a while longer, I should probably go make sure everything I need is gathered and ready to go.

And hey, I know the vast majority of the world is already deep into the whole Friday-night-thing, but if you do happen to see this, take a second to wish me cool breezes and second winds.

And with that, I'm off. Or at least off to get ready to be off.

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, an independent writing center in Boston, MA. Sponsor the run (and quite frankly, her second wind) at www.firstgiving.com/runforgrub.

* The training program I follow suggests training up to 20 miles before tapering off in the last couple of weeks before the marathon to rest. There are programs that argue that your training runs should include at least one run that's the full-length of the marathon, but most of those programs are also designed to improve speed. The program I chose is designed for the marathon rookie. Plus, I like the idea of running my first marathon for Grub, and if I ran 26.2 miles before race day, it would be my second marathon.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Top Three Running Anthems

In the book "Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life," Steve Almond (he's reading tonight to introduce songwriter Danya Kurtz at the Oberon on Arrow Street in Cambridge at eightgo, go, go!) writes about how "drooling fanatics" fall for different musical myths: the owner of an Air Supply album is pretty much guaranteed to harbor a different world view then, say, a Nine Inch Nails fanatic, for example.

But because most running playlists are built around a target tempo, it's almost impossible to get a clear sense of musical bias based on the tunes a runner throws together to encourage her feet to keep running around mile twenty. Case in point: no one would ever confuse me for the kind of girl who actually knows how to shake it like a Polaroid picture, and yet I get a goofy grin on my face every time my iPod shuffles around to "Hey Ya." And though I've been known to shake my hands like an idiot when André Benjamin demands I shake my aforementioned "it," no one's gonna confuse me with an Outkast fanboy.

But if you ask a runner for her top three running anthems, you can get a glimpse of that person's inner core, or as Steve would call it, her personal myth. And though I tend to be a handwringer in practice, most of my anthems are about quitting the handwringing already and embracing life. And frankly, it's refreshing to see the childlike optimism in me making a play for it, even if it's just bubbling up through a playlist.

And so without further ado, my top three running anthems:

"Life is Large" by The Kennedy's
—A buzzkill once told me this song is the worst kind of saccharin, but I decided that the way this song makes me fly was all I needed to know about it merits. And I'm not ashamed to admit that every time Maura Kennedy sings the lyric"How do you want to be remembered? A raging fire or a dying ember?"some little girl voice in my head screams: "Raging Fire! Raging Fire!"

"Gone At Last" by Paul Simon
A Southern-Gospel romp by a Jewish singer-songwriter from New York? Why the hell not?! Although my heart may explode as a direct result of my legs trying to keep up with the rollicking tempo of the piano in this tune, there's nothing quite like a gospel choir insisting that my steak of bad luck is gone, gone, gone at last to put a little pep in my step at the end of a long run.

"Losing Streak" by The EelsIf you're dubious about how a song called "Losing Streak" could possibly qualify as an anthem, you haven't heard the horns that chase the tail end of this chorus. "I said my losing streak is done," indeed.

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, an independent writing center in Boston, MA. Sponsor the run (and quite frankly, her second wind) at www.firstgiving.com/runforgrub.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Unleashing the High Five

After eight miles this morning, my feet held up just fine (see "My Foot Goes Gangstah") until my sneakers burst into flame due to ridiculously high a.m. temperatures.

Running in the heat hasn't exactly been the highlight of this whole marathon training process, but it does have its advantages:
  • I'm prepared should the temperature near blistering on race day;
  • I sweat so much that my entire t-shirt turned a darker shade of grey instead of leaving a lighter streak in the exact shape of my sports bra; and
  • I finally got the high-five I've been trying to inspire someone to give me since my long runs clicked up into the double digits.
Today was an eight-mile medium length run, and I decided to circle by Deer Island. Normal people drive out there and walk the few miles around the tip of the penisula, but I've found that if I jog there, loop the thing, and jog back, it's about eight miles. As I neared the end of the Deer Island segment of my run, a jolly man stood near a bench arms akimbo, shaking his head.

"You're doing better than me," he yelled, laughing. "I had to stop, and I was just walking."

I smiled at him, waved, and kept running.

The man yelled after me: "You're doing good, kid! Keep it up!!"

I waved again, my legs in their crazy left-right-left-right trance, when it hit mefor months I've bemoaned the fact that the secret running society amounts to a wave of a couple of fingers as joggers pass by one another.

Totally lame.

It's my firm belief that runners should great each other with way more ruckus than that. I'm thinking grand hellos and secret handshakes, but I'd settle for a high five. In fact, I've spent the last several weeks raising my hand in clear high five position, a move that has only succeeeded in bringing me bigger waves. Not a single, satisfying slap.

After a few weeks of this, it occurred to me that to make my in-medias-run-high-five a reality, I was gonna have to get into some faces, wave my hand, and make them feel silly for ignoring me. Which meant I pretty much had to give up my quest because let's face facts: I'm not really a channelling-Robin-Williams kind of girl.

But here was this happy Santa personality not a hundred feet from me. If there ever was a now-or-never moment, this was it. Maybe it was the false bravado of Eminem in my ear budsYou better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go go!but I turned around and jogged back.

"Hey," I yelled. "Could I get a high five?"

The guy laughed and got his hand ready. As I neared, my hand went up, both of our arms sailed through the air, and thenhere it comes!the smack to end all smacks! Believe me when I tell you that there has never been a more satisfying high five than that sweaty thunderclap I shared with a stranger this morning.

The lesson?

Sometimes you just gotta ask for what you want. And because I'm SUCH a quick study, I've already thrown my head back and yelled my request to Mother Nature:
"How about a cold front before my 20-mile run on Friday?"
Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, an independent writing center in Boston, MA. Sponsor the run (and quite frankly, her second wind) at www.firstgiving.com/runforgrub.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Foot Goes Gangstah

I don't want to alarm anyone, but I have reason to believe my feet may have joined the family. My toes aren't packing or anything (though there is a very suspicious callous on my big toe), but what with the dull but pulsing ache in the top of my foot that reared its ugly head this weekend, I can't help but feel my feet are trying to send me a message I can't ignore.

Plus there's the gravelly gangster voice my feet use when they talk to meyou knowin my head:

What fresh hell is this, Toots? Huh? You make us foot those extra pounds all these years and when you finally lose them you think it's slam-the-sidewalk time?

You feel that twinge in your tarsal bones, babe? Do ya? Yeah, I thought so. Keep running, Toots. Yeah.

You just keep it up.
After running 18 miles on Friday, my feet were a bit tired, by Saturday they hurt, and following Sunday's five-mile run in the hellaciously hilly country my mother-in-law calls home, I was in pain. I iced. Four times, I iced. I took ibuprofen. I surfed my husband's iPhone for information on stress fractures. Fortunately, this was definitely not a stress fracture. Not nearly painful enough. What it was, in fact, was an embarrassment: I'm lacing my running shoes too tightly.

Well wrap me in a toga and call me Bam-Bam!

So before my walk this morning, I tied my shoes while arching my foot to allow for extra space, trudged up and down those same hills, and poof!the bark of the don living in my foot was almost completely stilled. Good news, clearly.* But I do have one persistent worry:

If I spend an extra minute or two tying my laces just so before my eight-mile run tomorrow morning, does that make me the Tanya Harding of marathon training?

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, an independent writing center in Boston, MA. Sponsor the run (and quite frankly, her second wind) at www.firstgiving.com/runforgrub.

* Kidding aside, I want to go on record about how lucky I feel to have avoided injury. I know training for marathons isn't a smooth ride for everyone, and I'm grateful. Even when I poke fun, I'm grateful.

Grub Tales: Crystal King

Crystal King is a 15+ year public relations and marketing veteran who currently drives social media for CA, Inc., a $4.3B high-tech firm. She teaches graduate-level media communications at Boston University as well as social media classes for artists and writers at Mass College of Art and at Grub Street, respectively. Additionally, Crystal is a freelance writer and Pushcart-nominated poet who is currently working on her first novel. She holds an M.A. in Critical & Creative Thinking from UMass Boston where she centered her thesis on developing creative tools to help fiction writers in progress. Find her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/crystallyn.

RUN FOR GRUB: I know you're working on a novel about Rome in the first century, so tell me what's harder: being a gladiator or training for your first marathon?
Ha! This is such a great question. I think the training is equally arduous, but in the end, I would have to go with gladiator. Instead of dodging potholes they're trying to avoid the jaws of deathlions and bears most likely being the scariest of the jaws. Additionally, people threw money and flowers at them. Marathoners usually have to hit up everyone they know for money before the performance, but I'd like to believe that there are flowers handed to them afterward!

RUN FOR GRUB: You're kind of the Grub guru on social media sites, and I've tried to use Twitter and Facebook and Blogger to publicize the Run for Grub. My question is this: could I have made a BIGGER pest of myself?
Oh, you haven't been the slightest bit pesty! I enjoy helping people figure out what they need to do to help promote themselves. It is true though, that some people "get it" faster than others. The good thing is that you are the former vs. the latter! In my high tech PR job I spend a lot of time answering the same questions for the same people who just can't manage to wrap their heads around what social media is and how to use it.

RUN FOR GRUB: How did you learn about Grub Street?
CRYSTAL KING: This is a funny story actually. Four years ago I was at a "Getting Things Done" seminar on organizing my life, schedule, etc., and while I was there I ended up meeting a woman named Michelle Toth, who it turns out was on the board of Grub Street. I had heard of Grub but hadn't really pursued getting involved, thinking that it was just taking classes and not knowing the whole picture. I talked with Michelle for awhile and we agreed to touch base after the seminar was over. We put each other on our "get things done" list and did we do that? Nope. By then, however, I was intrigued enough to sign up for a day at the Muse & the Marketplace. During one of the lunches Michelle spoke briefly and when I went to approach her afterward, she remembered me immediately and we both talked about how we never managed to call each other. She introduced me to Christopher Castellani and after that I became very hookednot just on what Grub offers but by how special the people and the community are to me as a writer.

RUN FOR GRUB: What has Grub Street meant to you?
I like to think of my life as B.G.S. (Before Grub Street) and A.G.S. That may sound silly, but it's honestly true. It is 100% true when I say that Grub has changed my life. My outlook on my sense of self and as a writer is drastically different than before Grub Street waltzed in and declared itself part of my world. Before I was just someone who wanted to writedesperately wanted to write. Now I feel like a writer, my friends are writers, and I meet writers (NYT best-selling writers!! I'm still in awe of that) all the time. I worked in a vacuum B.G.S. Now I feel energized and excited about where my writing is going.

RUN FOR GRUB: Can you define your Grub community?
CRYSTAL KING: It's both small and large. I've taken several classes at Grub and they are all top-notch. I've taught classes on creativity and social media at Grub which is such a delight for me. And two years ago I pulled together three other Grub women I knew and we started meeting every two weeks and hashing over our novels. I also know a lot of writers both published and unpublished that I have met over the years at all the readings, the Muse conference, bi-annual parties, lock-downs, and other gatherings. It's a rich vibrant community that just plain makes me happy.

RUN FOR GRUB: What does Grub Street's magic feel like to you?
CRYSTAL KING: For being a writer I find that it's hard to put into words how I feel about the "magic" that is Grub Street. But it IS magical. I tell everyone I know about it. I feel proud to be a part of the larger tapestry that is Grub Street. I am so fortunate to live in Boston where a community like this exists. It's truly unique.

RUN FOR GRUB: What's your most magical Grub Street memory?
There are so many! Between all the writers I've met, the conferences, and classes it's hard to say. I think though, the way that I felt after I taught my first social media class at Grubthat would be hard to beat. I felt like I made a real difference for my studentswho are my fellow writers. They loved the class so much that they had my career half planned out on how I could help other authors afterward. I tear up thinking about it even now.

RUN FOR GRUB: Grub Street almost closed in 2001, butthank goodnessit reinvented itself as a nonprofit instead. What would you have lost if Grub had withered away eight years ago?
CRYSTAL KING: I'd still be working in a vacuum! I can't imagine going back to my life B.G.S.!!

RUN FOR GRUB: What was the best advice you ever received at a Grub Street event?

CRYSTAL KING: Again, there have been so many useful takeaways I've had from events. Chuck Palahniuk's keynote at this year's Muse & the Marketplace will always stick with me. It made me cry. It made me realize that the writer is, first and foremost, a storyteller. Anita Shreve also said something during her Muse session that will stick with me: "When something is stuck in real life you bang on it, you kick itthat's what you need to do with your writing."

RUN FOR GRUB: And now for the hard hitting journalism: I hear you have a new Grubbie to introduce to the world named Nerocan Run for Grub be the venue to introduce his stunning cuteness to the world? CRYSTAL KING: Yes! My new furry muse, a Ragdoll kitten, will be joining us in a couple of weeks. I'm hoping he'll sit on my desk and keep me company when the words just refuse to flow!