Since I started writing more than 35 years ago, many strange and wonderful things have happened to me. But I never thought the day would come when I would see my name mentioned in the same breath as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Salman Rushdie, Stephen Colbert and Neil Young. What I am talking about is this week’s Globe and Mail’s best seller lists. My book, Running to Extremes, is listed in 5th place on the Canadian non-fiction best seller list and in 8thplace on the list that includes British and American bestsellers.
To say that I was gobsmacked is an understatement. It is not that I did not have faith in my book. It was a fascinating story and written to the best of my ability. It is just that there are so MANY other good books out there. Launching a book in this day and age is like finding yourself participating in one of those massive marathon races where you are surrounded by a sea of well-toned contenders all running toward the same finish line somewhere far over the horizon. You move ahead of some runners, others move ahead of you. It goes on for so long that eventually just finishing the race (or in my case, just finishing the book) becomes the accomplishment in itself.
Then suddenly you turn a corner and there are only a handful of runners around you. In my case, my crowd includes rock and roll legend Neil Young, sharp tongued humourist Rick Mercer, Booker prize winner Sir Salman Rushdie, actor satirist Stephen Colbert and lumbering along just ahead of me is Mr. Universe/Oak of Austria/Terminator/Governor of California and now fellow author Arnold Schwarzenegger.
If I sat up thinking for a month of Mondays I could not have come up with a more diverse and delightful list of fellow runners. One thing I learned from Ray Zahab, the subject of my book, is that life is about the running, not the race.