I'm in the midst of writing a couple of different novels. One, The Lonesome Mile, I had planned to set in Colorado. One of the underlying themes of the story was the struggle that an aging miler faced with his own professional demise - and the allure of PED's to extend that life.
The coach in the story is a piece of work, a do-anything-to-beat-the-Kenyans type of guy. I don't know anyone like that, but that's why I write fiction.
Unfortunately, that whole story line blew up in the last month. First came the stunning announcement that Rita Jeptoo tested positive on her A sample. Then, the implosion of the Russian Federation athletes' doping scandal.
In a reprise of cold war rhetoric, Russian Athletic Federation president Valentin Balakhnichev said, “The federation believe the documentary was a provocation aimed at discrediting Russian sport.”
So, national events have overtaken the basis for my novel. I can't claim to be surprised. I wrote about different aspects of the doping problem in This System Fails Kids. I also hinted at it in a more recent article, Here's how to get more media coverage for running - if you dare.
What I have to figure out now is whether this is still a story worth writing. My first guess is 'yes' but I'll have to do some modifications of the plot and perhaps shorten it to a long short story instead.
I do expect an avalanche of non-fiction to hit the shelves in short order. They'll give us the why's and how's, but I wonder how deeply they'll look at the emotional motivations of the cheaters and the systemic abuse of trust by the coaches of those athletes. If they don't, I probably will.
In the meantime, I'm working on a story that a pair of young ladies from Mead High School have asked for.
And we'll see. I really wish my story idea had stayed the stuff of imagination and fiction, not tawdry headlines, tarnished reputations, and tainted accomplishments.