Today’s post is an interview with Jen Luitweiler, author of “Run With Me: An Accidental Runner and the Power of Poo” (links to Jen and her book at the bottom of the page). Read on!
1 – What was the hardest part about writing this book?
The hardest part was having some uncomfortable conversations with my family, in particular my parents, but also my sister. In the book, I write about an epic emotional meltdown I had during my teens, and a tightly shrouded family event that served as the tipping point for that meltdown…So, to answer your question with the most possible words, the hardest part was discussing with my family both the breakdown and the event and whether to include it. My parents were warm and open to the discussion and did not push me one way or the other. They encouraged me to write about it, and then to consider potential implications. I chose not to include the event, and I’m happy about that decision. Nevertheless, no one likes picking at on old wound. Or maybe they do….
2 – Since you began running, have you ever gone through an extended period of time where you didn’t run? If not, why not?
Good question. The only time off I’ve taken is weather related and I thought I might go stir crazy. In Oklahoma, we get “weather.” We don’t have just snow. We get ice. We don’t just have summer. We get heat that melts your brain. It’s not just humid. It’s “please don’t touch me from May to October.”
Poor Mr. Luitwieler. Sorry. Continue…
So last winter, we had about a week where the roads were covered in about 6 inches of ice. On top of that was 6 inches of snow. No one was going anywhere. Even if I could have driven off our street, I don’t have access to a treadmill, and frankly, I don’t want access to a treadmill. I find it so mindnumbing that five minutes in, I start getting antsy. But, near the end of that week, I broke out of the house and tried to run. It was an ill-fated attempt. Still ice. Still snow. I trudged about 3 miles. It was stupid. But I had to get out.
3 – Your writer’s voice is very unique and interesting (which for me is kind of mandatory in a book) – can you identify anything that you’ve done through the years to strengthen your narrative voice?
This question is hard for me to answer, because the woman in me wants to ask you, “What do you mean ‘unique’ and ‘interesting’? Are you saying I look fat in these pants?”
I’ve been married for twelve years. I know better than to even acknowledge that I just heard that question. If you could see me right now, you’d see me looking at the ceiling and walking out of the room, pretending to look for something. Sorry. Please continue.
The best I can say is this: it’s how I think. And it’s contradictory sometimes. (This, by the way, makes me like Walt Whitman, with his poet’s prerogative to contradict himself; ergo, we are both geniuses). At any rate, here’s the real and true thing. I think the way I found my writer’s voice was through running. I don’t mean to sound too ridiculous, but it’s the truth. What I mean is, that’s the voice I use to write inside my head. But for so many years I thought it wasn’t “smart” enough sounding, or “serious” enough. So I wrote dry and boring, but I sure used big words.
When I began running, everything changed. Everything. Finally, I was able to say, “You know, I don’t care if it’s not ‘serious’ or ‘smart’ sounding. I don’t care if I’m not breaking new theological ground. This is my voice and I kinda like it. Once I started blogging about running, in that voice, people I heard from did not hate it. They liked it. So I kept writing in that voice, and I was surprised that my writing got some good attention.
But also, I practiced. I practiced running: with and without music, hills, flat, different shoes, alone, with a friend. And I practiced my words with friends and family. I thought before I spoke and I thought even more before I wrote. So maybe some people don’t find me endearing and charming and hilarious. Maybe others think I make it sound too simple. I guess I can’t worry about that. That doesn’t mean I won’t, but you know, poet’s prerogative or whatever.
4 – If someone could read your book and come away with one thing, what would you want that one thing to be?
The answer might vary depending on the day or the mood I’m in or if I know the person or not. Or if they’re related to me! If I had to break it down, I would say: the church is neither all bad or all good. People are not either. Community is very real and vital to my being alive today. Depression sucks hard but it’s not the worst thing in the world and that everyone is awesome because that’s how we’re made. Lovingly and fantastically by a God who is the ultimate artist. Might sound like a big old kumbaya experience but it’s all true. And? You can do hard things. I think that might be my summary.
5 – Does The Dog receive any royalties or other benefits from the book?
The Dog is granted the same treatment as always. He lives at my house. He is offered food and water. Other people talk to him and whatnot. Other people tell him he’s a cover model. I sometimes give him my leftover fast food sandwiches, but only because I dislike waste.
Thanks, Jen, for taking the time to answer these five questions. Readers – this is a unique and transparent memoir that you will enjoy. Check it out or buy it HERE.
10 Replies to “Five Questions With Author Jen Luitwieler: On Running and Poo”
Thank you for clarifying that a treadmill offers nothing for someone who actually likes to run. ;-) Best of luck with your book!
Fantastic interview. I love to read how a writer finds his/her voice. That was the main thing I noticed in this book. Jen’s voice really shines through it, and I’m a better person just for having experienced that.
Thanks, Ed. Agreed.
Aw, ya’ll are gonna make me blush. Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m curious now about you two and how you found, grew, understood your voices? Did you have the same kinds of fears or different ones or none at all?
I think narrative voice always evolves, but mine came about mostly from two sources: writing a journal and copying some of my favorite writers. The modeling-other-writers thing helped because what I found is that in my attempt to pick up on some things that they were doing, my own genuine voice emerged. Interesting topic.
I loved this book! And I look forward to reading it again with my wife (though she is not overly fond of poo).
Thanks for reading, Chad.
Thanks, Chad. You’re a good egg. You can skip the poo parts with her!
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