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  • Writer's pictureDrew Dotson

Rewriting the story

After Ramón’s death a year ago, I set a goal to build my endurance until I could run for 60 minutes without stopping. I can’t recall why I chose this particular goal, but I knew I wanted to spend time outdoors after having been confined to a single hospital room for what felt like forever. Plus, Ramón finished endurance races immediately preceding his leukemia diagnosis and subsequent relapse, even though he couldn’t have been feeling his best. I admired the tenacity with which he trained for those races, and it felt like a way to honor him.

Long, long ago, I decided that endurance running just wasn’t for me. Folks with cystic fibrosis aren’t the picture of lung health, and I used that as my rationale. After repeatedly telling myself that story — that I simply couldn’t run for long periods of time — I started to believe it was true, despite never having tried. Looking back, I realize my lack of courage was the only thing stopping me. This morning, like many others in the past year, I ran for an hour straight. I could have used the drizzling rain as yet another excuse, but I didn’t. Ramón wouldn’t have. Today I can confidently say I’ve rewritten the self-limiting story I believed for so long.

Basking in my writing room

When I was a sophomore in high school, I decided I wanted to write a book by the end of the school year. I didn’t succeed. More impressively, I never even wrote a single word. How’s that for trying? I continued to revisit this goal into adulthood, but there was always something holding me back. “I just don’t have time,” I told myself between frivolous errands and online puzzles. “If only I could secure a literary agent,” I told myself, despite the rise of self-publishing. I will know when the time is right. What about my health insurance? Maybe I’ll win the lottery that I never play. If only this and that and blah blah nonsense blah.

After years of misleading myself, I’ve finally channeled the energy I spent making excuses into actually writing. I am well on my way to finishing the memoir that just wouldn’t write itself, no matter how much I whined about it and berated myself for non-doing. My book will be self-published by the end of the year, so start filling up your piggy bank. If you happen to be a literary agent or publisher or know someone who is, please share my blog with them. It’s an extensive sample that showcases my writing style and the central themes of my memoir.

I am grateful to have been married to a man who never told himself stories instead of trying. When Ramón’s incredibly meaningful life ceased, I finally started to seize. You can always rewrite the story.


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