I started the year making a series of pledges to myself. Not a New Year resolution, more of a map of where I’d like to be heading. I made my manifesto public, and now I’m holding myself to account. January went pretty well, let’s have a look at February’s progress.
More than ever, the last year has shown us we need to expect the unexpected. Well, the unexpected came with a rather debilitating stomach bug which meant I had a few days of not straying too far from the domestic personal facilities. Sadly, this coincided with some time off work and mine and Nicky’s birthdays. All better now and eating strongly again! It curtailed my running a bit but my reading and writing barely noticed the interruption.
Writing – Submissions
I’m going to submit a minimum of one piece of writing to a literary journal every single week during 2021.
A total of seven pieces of flash fiction, poetry and even my first ever non-fiction submission are all in the hands of various magazines or literary journals. It was lovely to hear one of my poems being read out by the mellow tones of Kristen, the editor-in-chief at Unpublishable Zine. I also entered a 500 word flash fiction piece into a weekly competition (and no, I didn’t win). Whether these get accepted (or indeed win) isn’t really the point, I’m challenging myself to invite critical comment and becoming more comfortable with knowing complete strangers are reading my words.
What about my novel?
My target is 2500 words a week of the first draft. This should comfortably complete the draft by the end of 2021
Lots of news. It is amazing where inspiration can be found. Where shall I start? Firstly I’ve re-joined the great Writers HQ. They promote themselves as a writers tool box for those of us short of time and money. Tick. They have a regular Couch To 5k month but for words rather than running. A daily email offers prompts, hopes, exercises and reassurance. They have a good old online forum (in the real world I guess this would be a reading group). This has definitely given me a boost. With my notebook and the typed pages on the laptop I’ve written around 12,000 words. Some have already been discarded, others have morphed into a separate story. Even if they all end up being rewritten, I feel good about where my writing is.
I’ve also found a new podcast, Unsound Methods. Two writers who write ‘literary fiction’ interview other authors (generally from the less commercial areas of writing) about their craft and methods. I found the podcast via the author David Keenan (more of him later).
And As For The Blog
I made quite a pledge for this:
I’m going to email at least one ‘trail running character’ every 14 days to see if they fancy being featured. I’m going to add new content to the blog. Every Single Week. I’m going to review at least one book a month.
So, my series about Trail Running Characters hhhhmmmmm, I’ve now got 7 outstanding invitations (plus one who declined the offer, “not for us mate”. So I think I’m going to drop that particular pledge and concentrate on my book blogs and anything else which piques my interest.
In February, I’ve managed to post 4 book reviews, including one of the afore mentioned David Keenan’s This Memorial Device. This book has contributed so much to my reading and writing. To describe it as quirky would be underselling it. Experimental? Maybe. Individual, definitely.
So in March I’ll be changing my blogging goals to a simpler “at least one post a week“.
The Journal (and other scribblings)
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.
This is going really well. I use my journal every single day. Just for very basic notes on how life is that day plus any thoughts, however small on ideas for my writing. This is particularly handy when I’m on a break at work (or even in between deliveries if I really don’t want to forget something.)
What About My Reading?
Well, seeing as you asked:
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.
This is going along nicely. Check out my reading list for 2021 which is up to 14 books so far.
If you are looking for some short fiction, poetry or creative non fiction to read, you could do worse than try some of these online beauties: Dodging The Rain, Open Page and Moxy Magazine. If any of my work were to be accepted by one of them I be a proud bunny.
I had a lovely package from Galley Beggar Press arrive, a free short story and a couple of off-the-wall postcards accompanied the book I’d ordered. So, alongside some independently published poetry, this satisfies my pledge to buy from independent publishers.
As for older books, I read We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, whose originally publication was a hundred years ago! So that box is ticked too.
And Not Forgetting My Running Of Course
I’m still tackling The Goat 2 (run elevation gain equivalent to that of the SW Coast Path in Devon and Cornwall in 4 months). My elevation climbed in 2021 is up to 65,000ft, so there’s still about 45,000 feet to go, but I’m ahead of target. This is despite having nearly a week out with a rather disruptive stomach bug! You can see in my chart which week that is. All my running had been pretty local in line with current guidance. That hasn’t stopped me and Nicky continuing our adventures on the trails we’re lucky enough to have accessible to us.
Other Fitness And Health Pledges
BUT, I will pledge this: I will, every single day, do either some conditioning work, strength exercises, stretches or other body maintenance.
I can’t lie, I’ve slacked. The month started well and ended well but the lurgy I had took my mojo, which is only now coming back. I have got myself a really good all over conditioning and stretching routine which only takes about 30 minutes, so I’ll be back doing that three times a week in March. And I’ll be getting that plank duration extended. Oh yes I will…..
And Lastly, The Dreaded Food Pledge
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.
February is ending on a Sunday, just like January did. So once again I say “At the time of writing, a rather delicious GU Zillionaire Cheesecake is settling on top of my roast dinner! So I’m keeping that up…..”
Actually, I’m not doing too bad with this. Having a bad stomach certainly helped curtail my urges to snack. There have been a few ‘comfort’ lapses, but on the whole I’m where I’d like to be with food. Without really trying to, I’ve also lost weight and to be honest, I probably needed to shed a pound or 10. The fact that this has been an almost accidental by product of trying to be healthier is great.
We step into March tomorrow, always a challenging month for me, with too many sad anniversaries and birthdays we no longer celebrate. I’m determined to create a positive vibe out of it all though.
Good things are coming………