Hills, Heart, Head and Hunger

Karalee’s Post #53

Karalee's triathlon in June 2013

Karalee’s triathlon in June 2013

It’s my hill running day today and my lady friends take a longer route with less hills while I stick to a shorter route and repeat a hill section to lessen the distance and the pounding on my lower back. For sure I get a good workout, but it also means that I have time to think and do personal mental work instead of listening or talking to my friends as I huff and puff.

Generally speaking I am an optimistic person, why else would I happily pursue a writing career that has such lopsided odds of success? But like many of us, I have a tendency to get stuck in negative loops at times. Actually I’ve had more than my share in this department. Lately, in order to counteract the childhood stuff I have been dealing with over the past year, I’ve been working on changing my automatic negative patterns and concentrating on positive thoughts throughout my day .

It is helping in a huge way.

For me, actively altering my thought process has been life changing. Today I was concentrating on opening my heart more and allowing myself to feel vulnerable. You may not think this is a positive thought pattern, rather it seems potentially more hurtful than beneficial, and the fear of being vulnerable would stop many people from even trying to embrace the feeling. But to truly trust and love someone with your inner self and to feel love in return, I believe it is necessary.

Who doesn’t want to love and be loved?

Of course my mind turned to how I could use these challenges in developing the characters in my novels, both in good ways and in dysfunctional ways. 

Meanwhile I kept running, my feet pounding more than caressing the path through the rain forest near the University of British Columbia as I sucked in lungfuls of air ripe with the smell of trampled leaves and forest dampness. The temperature was perfect, 8 Celsius, and it kept my peri-menopausal body from overheating as I climbed hill #4. 

I could feel my heart pounding and I was breathing heavily as I pushed up the incline.




The words set up a rhythm in my mind that matched the cadence of my feet and I thought about the four pillars of health: physical, emotional, psychological and nutritional. I love word games and my mind started to spit out ‘H’ words to represent these pillars.

‘Hills, Heart, Head and Hunger’ quickly became a mantra in time with my footsteps and of course I began to wonder how I could use the four H’s in my writing. 

Writers want their protagonists and antagonists, and maybe the aunts, uncles, children, dogs and anyone else wandering through the story to suffer in some way. This is necessary in order to have conflict and for characters to grow and change, and the reader to connect with them. It gives our stories greater depth.

And to suffer, our characters’ lives can’t be in balance.

One or more of the four pillars, or the four H’s must fall or be tilted. So writers out there, I urge you to muck with your character’s health in some way. Give them a physical difficulty, a psychological defect, emotional traumas, or starve or poison them. Make their lives miserable and see how they rise to the challenge so your readers can root for them, or boo and hiss at them.

Make your readers care one way or the other.

Happy writing.

7 thoughts on “Hills, Heart, Head and Hunger

  1. Very inspirational Karalee. I can’t believe you thought of all this, reflected on it and weaved it together while running, then remembered it well enough to write it all down! When I’m working out, I’m usually just counting the minutes until it’s over, haha! You MUST be suited to writing. 🙂

  2. Wonderful thought starters Karalee. I especially take your point, “And to suffer, our characters’ lives can’t be in balance.” Here’s where I think my past professional life solving problems, fixing things, putting everything back in balance is a real disadvantage. The minute one of my characters has a problem, I’m itching to solve it. I think I have to hone my mean streak!

  3. Karalee. Seriously? You thought of all this while running? I can barely manage to remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other while running… for the block or so that I can run without huffing and puffing to a full halt, hands on knees, eyes on ground. There isn’t much time to think. Not in a mere block. Back to the drawing board.

  4. Congrats on your stamina, Karalee, both your physical as well as psychological one. We are lucky to have not only a committed athlete in our group, but one with an inspirational and philosophical streak as well. I could so not do that – run and think about all these issues.

    • Haha. It’s taken years to accomplish this, much like learning the craft of writing!! Actually when I’m with the ladies I can hardly get a word in edgewise.

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