My 12 New Things

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I'm an "Epic" Editor

I didn't ride my bike from the east coast to the west coast... but my friend Jed did! I also didn't write a book detailing all of the adventures, challenges, and people along the way... but my friend Jed did!

What I DID was make his manuscript bleed (upon his request, of course) with my red pen and helped edit his book, Epic Ain't Easy.

I considered using this project as a New Thing, but it wouldn't have quite hit the mark on my objectives. The idea behind my New Things is that they push my limits and make me uncomfortable. Even though I've never helped edit a book manuscript before, it didn't qualify as an official New Thing for 2010 and I'll tell you why.

Helping Jed edit his book was one of the most interesting projects I've ever done and I was excited to be involved. I had read samples of Jed's work before and loved his poignant and humorous writing style. When I heard he was writing a book on his cross-country cycling adventure, I told him I wanted in.

I received the manuscript via email one weekend in mid-November. Jed sent it to me and four others, calling us the Epic Edit Team. In the email he introduced us to each other with brief bios and laid out the project. I enjoyed the bio he wrote for me:

Shanna- Currently resides in Kansas City and has been recruited because her husband mentioned she likes my writing style. Further investigations revealed she is also in possession of wicked skills, quick brains and an ability to provide criticism with the midwestern charm that removes the sting. Shanna is also smokin' hot but as is usually the case she's already got a dance partner.

I thought his description of me was hilarious. I don't know about the "smokin' hot" part, but if someone wants to say that about me, I won't stop them. And it won't bother me to post it on my own blog either. ;)

The manuscript was attached in the email and I couldn't wait to get started.

That first night I read nearly the whole 162 page document on my laptop. I drank a glass of wine. I was in my element and the book was fantastic, as I knew it would be. My plan was to read the book through once and then take to a printed version to make my edits and comments.

So that's what I did and I did it with fervor. Once I received the printed manuscript from Jed in the mail a few days later, I took my red pen and dove in. (Not that it wasn't a fabulously well written story already, by the way. It was. I provided editorial comments, suggestions on where to provide a little more description, etc.).

My goal was to be able to provide my edits to him by the end of November, so I took it with me on the long drive home for Thanksgiving. I was prepared with a book light since it would be dark much of the travel time, but the stupid thing didn't even work. Luckily my husband had his hunting gear packed in the car and had a headlamp I could borrow. I actually edited a good portion of the manuscript wearing his camoflauge headlamp. Really. Picture me in the passenger seat of a car with a camo headlamp, manuscript and red pen. That's how it went down. My daughter was incredibly freaked out by the light attached to my head, but she fell asleep soon enough. I mailed Jed the manuscript with my edits in late November.

In February, Jed sent it back to me with a signed copy of the published book. I was elated to see the final product and where my edits and suggestions were used. I was also thrilled that I was able to help a friend out on a project that meant so much to him. 

The book is called Epic Ain't Easy and it is indeed epic.

In 2006 Jed Dunham, upset with ambivalence and unaccountability in America, quit his job and put all he had on a bicycle. He wanted to see if his country was capable of meeting the challenges of the future horizon and he decided to ride across the continent to find out. He had no training, few maps, little knowledge of bicycling and no support vehicle. He left Mont Vernon, New Hampshire and aimed for the Pacific Ocean. He thought it would be fun. It wasn't. But what he learned completely restored his faith in America.

The book editing project reaffirmed how much I love writing. Around the same time that Jed's book arrived in the mail, my uncle gave me a book by Marcus Buckingham called Find Your Strongest Life. One of my biggest take-aways from Strongest Life was to learn to recognize activities that make you feel strong and figure out ways to spend more of your time doing those things.

Working with Jed on his book was a strong activity for me, which is why it doesn't qualify as a New Thing. I absolutely loved the project. It reawakened my love for writing and inspired me to find the time to do it more. His story motivated me, too. He's a guy that had a dream to bicycle across the country to find out what people are made of. Including himself. He didn't let the naysayers get him down or allow him to stop believing in himself. He used their snarky comments as fuel to push through the toughest parts of his journey.

Thank you, Jed, for allowing me to be a part of your adventure. You know where to find me when you get to Volume 2.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I'm a Runner!

I'm a runner! Okay, maybe I'm currently more of a jog/walk/jogger, but according to Runner's World Special Beginner's Guide that I received as a free gift for subscribing to the magazine, "It doesn't matter how fast you go. If you consider yourself a runner, you're a runner." I'm a runner!

For New Thing #6, I will be running in a race at the end of May. You read that right. Me. Running a race.

(You may be wondering what happened to New Thing #5 that's to take place in April. It's in the works. Don't worry).

In a previous posting, I told you about Carolyn Mitchell, the 74 year old marathon runner. Just to refresh your memory, she's completed 97 marathons in 50 states and on all 7 continents and she didn't start running until she was in her 50s. I find this incredible and it made me want to start running. I was further inspired by Billie Jean King and the other amazing women that shared their stories at that luncheon and it motivated me to push my athletic potential. I might have been blinded by the aura of that moment of inspiration or someone could have laced the iced tea I was drinking. Either way, I'm going for it.

I've never really done much running before. I've actually been guilty of making fun of runners and declaring that I only run when my life is in danger. I can be a little cheeky.

In preparation for becoming a runner I did a few things:
  • Downloaded a PDF called Couch to 5k in 8 Weeks.
  • Bought a new workout outfit.
  • Subscribed to Runner's World and ordered the free corresponding Beginner's Guide and Runner's Log.
With those things under my belt, I was on my way.

Last Friday I began my running journey with a triumphant 2 mile jog/walk/jog on the bike path near my house. It took me a ghastly 31 minutes. Yesterday and today's times were just as ghastly, but at least I was out there doing it. I don't expect myself to be a fabulous runner straight out of the gate so I'm not terribly upset about these numbers. I'll get better and I have some time to train.

New Thing #6 will commence on Memorial Day with a 2 mile run to benefit an organization that one of my friends is associated with- the Amy Thompson Run. Proceeds benefit the Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City ( They provide critical funding for prevention programming as well as information and direct support for individuals and their loved ones who face the ongoing trauma of brain injury. Since its inception the run has raised more than 1.5 million to help all people with brain injury. For those of you interested in the race, there's also an 8k course and a Kiddie Dash.

My goal for the race is threefold-
  • To finish without embarassing myself too greatly.
  • To run the whole way with no walking.
  • Use this as a starting point to run in longer races in the future.
I know my little 2 mile race isn't impressive to most people, but I have to start somewhere. Wish me luck!