2021: a manifesto

2021, are you ready for me?

There’s no ‘new normal’ for me. There’s no ‘going back to how it used to be’. Nope. I’m starting right here, in this moment, with all that is happening, right now. As I promised in my last post, I’m going with a full manifesto.

I’m making some public pledges: To hold myself to account in 2021.

Writing 

After finding myself dabbling more and more with poetry and snippets of creative nonfiction during 2020, I’d like to keep this going. 

I’m going to submit a minimum of one piece of writing to a literary journal every single week during 2021.

I was chuffed as a chuffed thing to find poems of mine in Unpublishable Zine and Neuro Logical. One was even read out on a podcast. Have confidence Kevin, have confidence.

And to achieve the above, I’m going to write one new piece of poetry, flash fiction or other vignette. Every. Single. Week.

Da da daaaaaaa, the novel. Well, what can I say. The idea came to me about 4 years ago. The working title has been there from the start. The two protagonists are very well formed and researched. As is ‘the big thing’ from the past which defines one of them.

Sadly there’s probably only 10,000 words of the first draft written. And, to be honest they’re in danger of being completely rewritten anyway. BUT, the story is always with me, I’m learning more about my characters every day. They talk to me you know!

If I want it badly enough, I’ll write it. My target is 2500 words a week of the first draft. This should comfortably complete the draft by the end of 2021. Do it Kevin, just feckin’ do it.

What about The Blog? This here blog. There are so many ideas I have as I’m driving around delivering. Time to put some of these light bulb moments into action. I feel another pledge coming on:

I’m going to email at least one ‘trail running character’ every 14 days to see if they fancy being featured (more about this later). I’m going to add new content to the blog. Every Single Week. I’m going to review at least one book a month.

I already keep a journal, or note book, with me pretty much all of the time. When inspiration comes, a voice on the radio, a headline, a quip from a colleague, a shade of green, I try and scribble it down. How many flashes of ideas pass us by unnoticed otherwise? My pen and paper act as the keepnet as I fish for the words.

I shall write in my journal. Every. Single. Day. Just thoughts. Observations. Even a note to say nothing of note. Never dismiss a thought – it will end up being used somewhere.

So that’s writing. Why am I going to do all of that? Because I bloomin’ well love writing. I may or may not be any good at it. I’m certainly not going to make any money from it. People either will or won’t read it. But even the odd comment about a piece, telling me that what I’ve written resonates, that really is the chocolate on the log.

Reading

Yup. Going to do lots of this too. I actually have quite a large ‘to read’ pile, but you can never have too many books right? In fact I’ve just placed a sneaky order for a novel with the book token I got given for going the extra mile at work in the build up to Christmas. Nicky and I also have a rather impressively sized book token waiting to be unleashed. This was also a ‘thank you’. Almost like these people know us…..

There’ll be novels, biographies, short stories, AND…..

I’ll read at least one poem every single day. 

I’m going to buy one book a month from an independent publisher, by an author I haven’t read before. And I’m going to read a minimum of 6 books during 2021 which were published at least ten years ago.

It’s would be easy just to lazily follow the new releases and read the most popular books, the best sellers. Nicky and I are already quite proud of the diversity of the tomes we tackle (here’s my list from 2020), but there’s always more out there. It used to be the same with music, listening to John Peel and Tommy Vance back in the day gave me a window into artists beyond Radio One and the top 40. Now, of course there are podcasts (like the excellent A Good Read on Radio 4) and book bloggers (there some brilliant examples, try John Fish’s The Last Word Book Review as a pretty good starter), as well the usual reviews in the mainstream press.

Don’t forget these occasional ramblings about some of the books I’ve read.

I’m going to read rather than ‘phone’. Particularly when I get gaps in my schedule at work, or on breaks. It’s so, so much more rewarding than wasting time scrolling through Facebook. 

There is no target for the amount of books I’m going to read. There are big books, small books, slow burners and page turners. Who knows how many it will be….. Will it be more than in 2020?

Running And Fitness And Health

Here we go then: firstly, I’m making no predictions for any events which I may or may not complete. As I write (New Year’s Eve) the current regulations and guidance would mean no events taking place.

As regular readers will know, I’m writing occasional pieces about some of the characters behind trail running events. Tough times for everybody and particularly hard for these guys and girls to not know when they’ll be hosting again. 

Like most events, the big winter ultra marathon I was hoping to tackle is postponed for a year. This shouldn’t stop me, I bloomin’ love those big trail runs – I am going to continue to prepare for the distance. A route is being planned nearer to home, an attempt to tackle the distance on the day anyway. I am also going to prepare for the 100 mile event I have planned for May. I shall keep training for this assuming it will take place.

There’s very little which will stop Nicky! She is my absolute inspiration.

I’ll never be as organised as Nicky…….. she has every session pencilled in for the next 8 months. Then again, she is attempting something HUGE which involves swimming, cycling and running a very, very long way! She needs to be balancing her training. Whereas I am naturally more chaotic. I will make sure I get my long runs done out there on the trails. Other than that, I’ll run when I feel like it, wherever the the mood takes me. If I’m tired from work, I’ve found there’s no point in forcing myself. I just want to carry on enjoying every step.

In fact, I will pledge to NOT attempt to follow a training plan.

I’ve got my first triathlon, a couple of cycling events and a few running events planned. I shall prepare for them all as if they are going ahead.

My goal for ALL of these events is to do as much as I can to give myself the best chance of completing them. I will not train if I’m over tired from the combination of working, training and any other aspect of life, I will rest if rest is what’s required.

BUT, I will pledge this: I will, every single day, do either some conditioning work, strength exercises, stretches or other body maintenance.

This will hopefully give me the best chance of keeping healthy as my aging body builds towards these challenges.

And so to the aspect of my fitness and health which I neglect rather, my food! I tend to eat healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners and spoil it all by scoffing random bags of donuts or fighting Nicky for the last liquorice allsort. My commitment needs to be one I’m buying into. I need to tell myself every time I shovel a pile of chocolate fingers into my gob that I’m undoing the good work of all the other commitments I’ve made up to now. 

So, I am going to not snack at work. I’m going to only snack during evenings after big (as in 2 hours plus) training days. Puddings will still be the law after roast dinners of course. 

Sleep. Ahhh, the dreaded sleep (or dreaded lack of it!). There was a great piece about sleep recently on the excellent Over The Fells blog. They spoke to ultra-marathon coach and nutritionist, Joe Wenman as well as marathoner Tish Jones and trail running legend, John Kelly. It was reassuring that Kelly’s life is as chaotic as most of the rest of us! Like him, my life will in no way suit me making any pledges for hours of sleep I’m going to get. I’ll just say that I’m going to keep turning in early, hoping for plenty of zzzzz’s!

And Finally

Everybody is living this day. Right here. Right now. There is no right, no wrong and no perfect way to negotiate through this life. I want to continue to respect the fact that, in the best way they can, everybody is (to quote AL Kennedy) “attempting to survive our time”. Hopefully, this respect will be reciprocated and we can all just get on together. Being kind. If not, I have discovered the ‘mute’ function this year, in real life and online, it’s bloody brilliant!

If anyone has got to the end of this, I’ll be mightily impressed. With that sort of grit and resolve, you should definitely be the type of character who will stick to their New Years resolutions.

2021. Bring. It. On.

10 thoughts on “2021: a manifesto

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  1. Love this Kevin. Clearly thought through and as balanced as an Olympic gymnast on a beam. As a fellow runner and nascent triathlete based in the SW I can relate to much of what you write about – keep doing so (doh, you committed to, right!?), and I‘ll keep taking inspiration and tips from input writing too.

    Liked by 2 people

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