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25 August 2014 @ 12:29 am
LJ Idol Season Nine: "Sideways Inspiration"  
Sideways Inspiration
lj idol season nine | week 19 | 630 words


Even in high school, I was a fan of male/male slash fiction. This was before the Internet, so the offerings amounted to occasional gay novels bought in bookstores. "The Fancy Dancer," with its secret affair between a priest and a local Native American man had some clichés, but wasn't bad. "The Front Runner," by the same author, developed a surprising second purpose completely unrelated to its appeal as erotica.

I went to college in Eugene, and I was an on-again/off-again runner during those years. The "off" season was winter, because of its frequent, heavy rains. Nowadays, running in the rain isn't pleasant, but it won't kill you and then it's over. In college, things were different. I didn't own a blow-dryer, the nearest clothes-dryer was at a distant Laundromat, and my rented house was like most student housing and had no central heating. If you got drenched while running, you'd stay wet for hours, and it could be a week before your shoes dried—possibly after sprouting a mildew colony or two.

When the rainy season started, running went on hiatus until the spring. Once the weather turned promising again, "The Front Runner" was what I used to find my motivation.

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rayasorayaso on August 27th, 2014 03:49 pm (UTC)
Wonderfully written, as usual! I love the idea of this book inspiring you to run, with its combination of m/m porn and motivating parts. When I see the distance runners with smiles on their faces, now I know what they're really thinking about!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 27th, 2014 06:07 pm (UTC)
Actually, I think they're just zoning out in the 'foreverness' of running (that middle period that is the "runner's high") before the reality of fatigue and possibly aches and pains finally hits!

The longer the distance, the more time you spend in that middle period. The ends? Not so much fun! :D
mamas_minionmamas_minion on August 27th, 2014 10:31 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed reading this,sometimes we all need a little motivator to get going again especially after a long hiatus.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 27th, 2014 11:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

It's so nice to live in a climate where that isn't a yearly event, too. You aren't so lucky where you live-- worse than Peoria, I imagine, where there could be snow from November to April. Yark.
A Karmic Sandbox: Rufus Hidingkarmasoup on August 28th, 2014 02:30 am (UTC)
I totally need a copy of any book that would get me out running again!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 28th, 2014 04:50 pm (UTC)
Especially in your climate, where the winters are unworkable!

There _were_ people who ran in the winter in Illinois... on the packed snow (ice) with uneven footing. I always thought that was crazy, though. :O
Teo Sayseternal_ot on August 28th, 2014 02:24 pm (UTC)
Ha! who would have thought that the source of inspiration for running would be M/M slash fic..Enjoyed reading this..:)..especially the description ab't running..precise and informative.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 28th, 2014 04:52 pm (UTC)
It was always interesting to read those 5-minute miles tossed off so casually-- yet there are marathon runners whose pace will be a 4:20 - 4:30 mile for most of the distance.

I will NEVER see a 5-minute mile in my lifetime. The 8-minute mile was my best. Running faster just burns me out after a few blocks, and then I can't finish. Those fast runners are made of different stuff than me!
whipchickwhipchick on August 28th, 2014 10:17 pm (UTC)
That's great, I love the journey from erotica to running! I remember when the Internet first became a thing, and we passed around dog-eared printouts.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 28th, 2014 11:05 pm (UTC)
My first encounters with the Internet were back in the Usenet days, where you could join discussion groups based on your interest. I was still reading misc.kids when my first child was born.

In the really early stuff I belonged to, there were fanfic groups (where I first discovered a fantastic Kirk/Spock story by an author who is now an LJ friend), whatever the group for mostly expat Oregonians was where we lamented the things we missed about home, and something called alt.ensign.wesley.crusher.die.die.die. Good times. :D
waltzmatildah: [pb] michael | you know it iswaltzmatildah on August 29th, 2014 11:29 am (UTC)
I've never really had cause to say this before now, but I totally devoured your PB slash (and your PB gen fic!) back in the day!! I was an LJ lurker then, but yeah... that freaking show, hey?!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Lincoln (pensive)halfshellvenus on August 29th, 2014 04:15 pm (UTC)
Hah- I would not have guessed that!

That show really had a hold on me, though especially S1. The story, the angst, the wonderful minor characters. I still write for it, once in a blue moon. :D
i_17bingoi_17bingo on August 31st, 2014 11:58 am (UTC)
This is really fascinating. I had no idea where it was going as I read it, but by the end, I found myself looking forward to tomorrow's 5am 5K, which I've been dreading because it's 5:00 in the morning (and the weather here is almost 40 degrees Celsius even before the sun comes out this time of year out here).

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 31st, 2014 04:54 pm (UTC)
It's almost as if you could run forever! Which I hope is what it will feel like. 5 a.m.-- ACK!

I don't know what the Celsius conversion to Fahrenheit is for 40-degrees. Sacramento is _usually_ dry in the summer, and when I run at 8am it's anywhere from 65 to 75 degrees F depending on how hot the day is going to get. Humid climates, though? (Illinois-- yikes. Texas-- bigger yikes!) The summer is just around-the-clock misery. :(
reckless_blues: And we never loved you very much.reckless_blues on September 1st, 2014 12:00 am (UTC)
Why is slash fanfiction so much better than real queer fiction? I guess because we bring the canon into it, richer world, better characterization ... a lot of the queer novels I read (and I devoured all of them when I was young, The Front Runner was one exception, although I had always meant to get around to it) just seem boring and flat. And the films are worse.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on September 2nd, 2014 02:25 am (UTC)
It might be exactly what you mentioned-- more context, more depth. I sometimes wonder, too, if gay novels are really often another version of romance novels, which... urk. I just can't cope with that genre.

I wonder if the Front Runner would work better for you if you liked running? As opposed to approaching it from the sense that all of those people are NUTS, and that none of that could possible be real. From some of the comments above, I know that's completely foreign territory to non-runners. :D
(no subject) - reckless_blues on September 2nd, 2014 02:37 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on September 2nd, 2014 07:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
John Louis: Cheezeburgergrail76 on September 1st, 2014 12:56 am (UTC)
I think I may have read that book you mention in the beginning.

I wish I could get that excited about running.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on September 2nd, 2014 02:28 am (UTC)
I know running will never "catch" for some people, and I think it would never stop feeling like a chore for them.

Looking back, I can definitely say that running 3 1/2+ miles is definitely where I started to see the consistency that made it easier and more enjoyable. The shorter distances, I don't think you build the stamina and then the running never uncrapifies!
penpusher: Travel Channelpenpusher on September 1st, 2014 08:09 pm (UTC)
If nothing else, you've made me interested in reading The Front Runner! But there is something else. It's a pretty fascinating mini-memoir of your romance with the road. Really, there is a travel aspect to running that is a part of the interest, and your travelogue of cities echoes that in a great way.

Nice tale that certainly keeps moving.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on September 2nd, 2014 02:30 am (UTC)
Really, there is a travel aspect to running that is a part of the interest, and your travelogue of cities echoes that in a great way.

Thank you! It was really a jolt living in Illinois, where the snow arrived in November and just stuck around until March-April. You really can't run outside in that at all. Eugene and Sacramento both seem so easy compared to that!
ArmagedDanhosticle_fifer on September 2nd, 2014 12:47 am (UTC)
Practice sets of 5 minute miles, Christ. :)

I'm very much a seasonal runner, even cool weather seems to give me some kind of lungburn, and the icy Pennsylvania winters are right out. I'm working against the grain to be running anyway, I was apparently built to stand in one place and lift heavy things.

Good on you for keeping up with it! Everyone has that one half-science-half-magic thing that gets and keeps them rolling.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on September 2nd, 2014 02:35 am (UTC)
Practice sets of 5 minute miles, Christ. :)
Looking at that book now, after running longer distances, I now see that longer-distance runners are living in a whole different world from the 2-3 mile joggers. The whole endorphin cycle and stuff actually happens at longer distances.

And I know a guy who used to be an ultrarunner (100-mile distances) and has had to cut back now that he's over 50. Last year's marathon, he said he was a pacer for the 5:00 mile group. !?!?!?!?! Argh! How do people achieve that speed for one mile, let alone 26 of them?!?

I wonder if the lung burn is running too fast? I always used to feel that way, until I slowed down a little. I could run a lot farther then, too. Some of us are just not meant to be fast. :O

Thanks for reading!
(no subject) - hosticle_fifer on September 2nd, 2014 02:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on September 2nd, 2014 07:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)