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My husband and I were talking the other night and I mentioned that I don’t think I’m very competitive. He burst out laughing and I was offended.  Come on, buddy!  You’re talking to a woman who is so non-competitive she throws games of Settlers when she feels bad that someone else is losing.  You’re talking to the woman who lived in a sorority with girls who wore designer clothes WHILE SHE WAS PREGNANT AND HER HUSBAND WAS IN GRAD SCHOOL SO SHE COULD ONLY AFFORD FIVE MATERNITY SHIRTS AND TWO PAIRS OF CAPRIS AND NOT ONLY DID SHE HAVE TO WEAR THEM IN FRONT OF TINY GORGEOUS GIRLS DAY IN AND DAY OUT, SHE ALSO HAD TO WASH THEM IN THE SAME LAUNDRY ROOM AS THEIR 7 FOR ALL MANKIND JEANS AND THEIR THONGS AND SEE THOSE ITEMS DRYING ON THE RACKS NEXT TO HER ENORMOUS DISCOUNT MATERNITY CLOTHES.

Not that I cared.  It’s easy to be a big pregnant lady in a sorority!  You should totally try it.

But back to my point.  My husband pointed out that I am actually very competitive–with myself. And he’s right.

In high school, I was a runner.  I wasn’t anything to write home about; but I loved it and I was good enough to make the All-State team and I had some fast(ish) times.  I’m still a runner and will always be one, but I don’t train like I once did. I don’t do speed workouts and hills anymore, and I have no desire to do so.  I was wondering about that–why I don’t even want to push myself to the limit every day anymore–and I think my husband just figured it out.  

I run for fun now because I know that I can’t beat myself.  

I’ll never beat those times from high school and college.  There’s just no way.  I will run until the day I die or my knees give out, but the element of competition is gone for me.  I know I’ve run my fastest races.  

But.  I still don’t think I’ve written my best book.  I look back at each book and can see improvement; I remember how hard I worked.  But I still think there are better books in me.

So.  Game on, me.  I hereby challenge myself to set a PR (in running lingo, a personal record) in writing.  I hope that this next year I write something better than anything I’ve written before.

+ comments (10)
  • erin summerill
    September 1, 2009

    Seriously, I think Matched is your best. But then again, you will write something better and I will love it too. did you read Catching Fire yet? I loved it. It is excellent…and i think her writing improved. I love your novel just as much and I cant wait for you to be all famous and then I can be like, “Hey, Ally Condie and Me, well, we’re tight!” ha ha.

    Also, I LOVE settlers. Now that I know you like it, I have decided to invite myself over and be more than just a once a month friend. (ugh, did that sound gross? a once a month friend?) ha ha

  • Rachel Coleman
    September 1, 2009

    Thank you Ally for spurring a memory of: one pair of black maternity pants + 5-days-a-week job with hiply-dressed graphic designers.

    As I’m writing I just keep thinking about how long it took me to master the piano. It’s got to get better. At least that’s what I’m betting on.

  • Sara
    September 2, 2009

    Oh man, I hear you – I could only afford discount maternity clothes with my first pregnancy, and when you’re 5’9″ that is really not good. They don’t make “talls” at discount stores. Sigh. But I didn’t live at a sorority with girls wearing Sevens all around me! (just my sister)

    We love Settlers too! But I am competitive, so… I definitely don’t throw the game on purpose. lol!

    I agree with Erin – you are going to be uberfamous and be going to premieres of the movie of MATCHED and you’ll invite me right? 😉 You are such a talented author and I’m glad I know you now, before you get too famous and popular to have wanted to be friends with me!! If you have even better books swimming around in that head of yours, I can’t wait to read them too!

  • becca
    September 2, 2009

    “better than anything I’ve ever written before” — game on. And shouldn’t that always be the plan? Go, you.

  • Tasha
    September 2, 2009

    I’m ultra competitive!!! My husband won’t play Phase 10 with me anymore because of it.

    I love a game on challenge. Working on that myself. It’s just finding the time….

  • Jake
    September 7, 2009

    Competition, it’s all relative. It always took me longer to get over being beaten in a race than it did to get beaten on a test. Medical school cured me of that for sure. Alas I’m still trying to get into my prepaternity suit and pants.

  • Jake
    September 7, 2009

    sorry I meant it took me less time to get over being beaten in a race than on a test.

  • ally
    September 7, 2009

    Hey, I think this is the most comments ever on a post! Thanks, you guys! I should write about maternity pants more often. Jake, you made me laugh out loud with the line “pre-paternity pants.” So funny.

  • HeatherSmith
    January 1, 2010

    I was pregnant twice while house parents in a sorority. I am sure you remember my fabulousness. Just looked at pictures of this time…I was more tent than person. And my girls wore less of their size 5-7’s each year!

    These memories are not as harsh as realizing(upon moving from grad school and unpacking our few possessions) that we had smelled like mold for 5 years and never knew it.

    I am looking forward to the next book that flows out of that brain of yours. So…the gauntlet has been thrown….I can’t wait!

  • Aubrey(AKAStacey)
    April 22, 2010

    Ally if your writing keeps getting better I will be blown away time after time! I am SO excited to see how Matched has turned out and I am SO excited for more from you in the future!

    We missed you last night, love you and all wish you the very very best!

    At least I get to see you this weekend!

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