It’s Not All About Me

Those that know me well, or have read this blog over the years, will be aware that I do enjoy a spot of running. Oh yes, such a simple sport, just pop on your kicks and out the door you go. That’s how it normally is anyway…….

Right now I’m injured. It’s a foot thing. Luckily it only seems to really hurt when I, er, run. Hmmm. It hurts a bit when I walk, not at all when I’m doing nothing. I still haven’t really got any further with it being diagnosed, despite it originally happening on March 15th.

This is who we’re talking about – my amazing wife, Nicky

Enough.

It’s not all about me.

While I’ve been keeping fit on the turbo trainer, swimming lots and doing my circuit training, Nicky is hard in training for some rather epic events over the summer. I (alongside our faithful Border Terrier Charlie) have been offering enthusiastic support over the last few weeks as Nicky has been out doing events.

Charlie watching Nicky charge to the finish at Parke

We went to Parke Parkrun in Bovey Tracey last weekend and Nicky had a great run. It really is a stunning location to visit and the run route explores the beautiful woodlands, including a couple of naughty hills. It can be a mud fest in winter, but after a dry spell it was more dusty than anything.

Nicky skipped around with her usual determination, hidden by her ever present, gorgeous smile. Me and Charlie stumbled around to offer support. Excellent coffee and vegan cake in the grounds of the house rounded off a marvellous morning.

Just two days later and we find ourselves in Yeovil, 5 years since we’d gone there and both ran close to our fastest 10k’s (which I wrote about here). A very different preparation this year – me hobbling with a support under my foot (so obviously not running!) and Nicky in the middle of heavy training for her epic upcoming events.

Having hinted that she’d be happy with 1h10m, she proceeded to skip over the line alongside the 1 hour pacer! Bloody ace my wife is!

Me & Charlie had a very stressful morning in Yeovil!

She’s following, as best she can with the time available, a plan to get her to her much postponed Ironman in August. On the way though, she’s also got some pretty epic swims planned. If I thought I was heroic knocking out 100 lengths in the pool, she has done as many as 200……… and then gone back in the evening for another 80.

It was pretty chilly on Sidmouth sea front for the race briefing

Not forgetting her casually knocking out long rides of 50 – 80 miles every week on the bike. She’s also done unmpteen half marathons this year! Absolutely inspirational.

The latest of these was The Sid Valley Ring, hosted by Climb Southwest. And there was plenty of climbing on the route I’m reliably informed. It is this type of event where I get jealous of those running. Lots of trails, gorgeous scenery, a bit of coastline, yeah, as an old friend who we bumped into on the day said, “You’d have hated it Kevin!”

But it was great for me and Charlie to have a morning out exploring East Devon trying to catch Nicky at a couple of places. We succeeded and Nicky, and all the other runners too, seemed to be having a ball. Finishing on the sea front in Sidmouth made for a spectacular backdrop to end a fabulous event.

So I’m, as ever, in awe of Nicky, and will be using the example of her determination to keep as fit as I can while I’m injured and to come back stronger and build my running back up to where it was waaaaay back in January when Covid struck.

Onwards…..

The Writing Comeback (Week III)

It’s Not All About The Numbers

Ahh, the blog post you’ve all been waiting for.

Here goes – week three of my writing comeback. Not everything can be measured in numbers.

Not for me anyway. Pleasure should not be quantified, happiness isn’t counted. Not in our house.

There’s a great interview with Zac Smith on this week’s Other PPL Podcast where Zac and host Brad Listi talk about how the pleasure of writing comes in the writing! It sounds obvious but, again forgive my analogy, it is just like running – one step at a time, one word at a time – it clears my mind.

Thinking very much counts as writing

What about progress? Surely I’ve always measured my running – longest distances, fastest times, PBs – and I’m guilty as charges I’m afraid. But it is till mainly about the feeling.

This reboot of mine (read this if you fancy) is all about BEING a writer and just as soon as my foot is healed, it will be about BEING a runner too

Of course I’ll be using numbers to measure my progress! Hopefully writing my estimated 90,000 words of the first draft of the novel, tentatively titled Dogs That Don’t Look Like Their Owners (DTDLLTO) by the end of the year. But a good stint of writing will still be successful, if it FEELS successful, regardless of how many words I get down on the page.

SO, for your (and my) pleasure, here’s week three’s progress (and yes there are some numbers!)

Monday: I finalised and posted two, count ’em, TWO blog posts – Click here to read all about the two months since Nicky and myself became vegans or here to catch up with last week’s writing update.

Making people on paper, much like making them in your uterus, takes a long time, is physically and mentally exhausting, and makes you wee a lot. So brace yourself, we’re going in.

Writers HQ offering a reality check for the writer!

Tuesday: Busy McBusyface didn’t get chance to add words today.

Wednesday: On the timer, I managed 1100 words of the first draft of DTDLLTO. I also pre-ordered David Keenan’s latest offering today. It is a prequel to the extraordinary This Is Memorial Device (which I reviewed here).

Thursday: Busy trying to keep fit and then grandadding, so little time for words. The wonderful non-fiction journal, Hinterland dropped through the letter box today – I managed to read some of the excellent articles in there while little Charlie (the grandson, not the dog – I know it does make for some confusion having a pet and a 10 month old sharing a name) had a sleep.

Friday: Not feeling great. Ran out of time. Bit of noodling with Writers HQ working out how to join the virtual writers’ retreat.

Saturday: We had a bloomin lovely day out I’ll have you know. You can read about it just as soon as I’ve written the next blog post!

Sunday: Writers HQ Online Retreat. If you’re fancying doing a bit of writing and find yourself struggling for time (& money) have a rummage around their website. This was the first time I’ve done one of their writing retreats – which became online when that there pandemic arrived – and what a marvellous success it has been.

It just shows that prioritising writing, sitting at a desk which faces the wall, rather than having the laptop on my actual lap and sitting downstairs by a window, works a treat. For me, writing in chunks of time works so well. I did 5 sets of 30 mins of my novel today and wrote 2990 words of this first drafting. I’m just getting the story out and trying not to edit as I go!

Using my desk to lean on, you’ll be shocked to learn, is more productive than my lap!

A big chunk of wordsmithery time today paid dividends in more ways the number of words. I also started to get a richer understanding of the relationship between my two main characters, I found I could tap into a wider range of emotions, hopefully gradually changing between scenes. When I write in very small time windows, I find I force a feeling into a scene without the context of the scenes either side of it.

As the wonderful AL Kennedy says, once characters start developing through the act writing their lives, they will start to live in the writer’s head more. Thus revealing themselves in greater detail. I’m just letting these two show themselves to me as I go. They haven’t been created from nothing, in many ways they’ve been created from everything. And what a privilege it is to be their narrator.

A Certain Thought To Finish

Now here’s thing. A proper thing.

There’s a certain something about a certain writer. Or a certain podcaster. A certain friend, a certain relative or even a certain random character on Twitter. There is a certain something about these certain people which instantly inspires me to write. There certainly is.

You people know who you are 🙏

Reset The Dials

I’m enjoying the positivity this post has created. Onwards my friends, onwards…..

Born To Run And Write

Quite a lot.

Is the answer.

To what question?

Maybe this one:

Anything new in my life since I wrote this manifesto?

Yup. Quite a lot indeed.

A quarter of the year has now gone. I can’t think of anything in which I’ve achieved anywhere near a quarter of my aims.

Which sounds rather negative when I say it outloud.

To discover what’s been going on, let’s unpack my 2022 manifesto.

My Journal

At least my first pledge is going well! I said I’d write in my journal every single day, and I’m pleased to say that I always, always do. Winning eh? One nil up and we’ve only just kicked off. (Spoiler alert, this isn’t going to be a goal fest!)

Submitting Fiction

Ah. Well, er, well, you see, hhmmm. I’ve submitted a couple of times to Paragraph Planet (with one success!) but, alas, I am…

View original post 1,106 more words

The Writing Comeback (Week 2)

Monday: I published last weeks writing update. I also got stuck into my Writers HQ First Draft course and wrote around 500 words of what I think will be the 2nd chapter, although it may yet become the first. These first two settings are several years apart and one could be a reflection of the other.

I know I should use my desk, but this way I keep the weight off my poorly foot!

Tuesday: I plucked up the courage to ask for help from a couple of people who had volunteered through Twitter to be 1st readers. And having publicly thanked them, I got a veritable barrage of Running Commentary listeners offering to have a read of my piece. *gulp*. I struggle to see myself as a ‘proper’ writer and this felt like a huge step for me.

Tuesday also saw me add 400+ words to DTDLLTO (my first novel, working title Dogs That Don’t Look Like Their Owners, hence DTDLLTO) which is a great start. I’m ‘writing with the door closed’ as per Stephen King’s advice in the brilliant On Writing – he says this first attempt is meant to be rubbish! So, I am writing the first draft for me, getting the story and the characters out of my head and onto paper. I’m trying really hard not to edit as I go, the point is to let it just blurt out. The refining comes later. This is the first time I’ve gathered so much momentum with the book and I intend to embrace it.

AND I started work on a new blog post about becoming a vegan. Considering we were on grandparenting duty, that’s a pretty productive day.

What a bloomin’ joy it is having this little fella to look after.

Wednesday: Time limited, I managed 150 odd words on what is currently chapter 2 of DTDLLTO whilst looking after our youngest grandson, Charlie of course.

Thurs/Fri: I’ve started having replies from the 5 people who are first reading the draft of that short story. It is interesting to see how people react to something I’ve written. Let me tell you it is a leap of faith to get other people involved, but one I know will only improve my writing. I shall leave the story festering in a drawer for a week before starting any edits. One possibility is that it is actually part of a much grander piece, and not a short story at all. I’m hoping that once I start editing, the story will reveal itself to me further.

Also on Friday, I started scribbling some notes for a piece I plan to contribute to The Creative Nonfiction Podcast. It is a quirky podcast, the host, Brendan O’Meara talks in riffs, with nods to his favourite metal bands. I was soon on his wavelength though and this has become one of my go-to pods. He interviews authors, journalists and feature writers about the art of creating non-fiction which has the same kerb appeal as fiction. I enjoy writing nonfiction, particularly these blog posts and often think I should spend a bit more time developing the themes. Brendan has a twice yearly audio magazine alongside the podcast and picks the content from listeners’ submissions. For anybody fancying a go, the deadline is 31st October, the theme is ‘codes’ and it needs to be 2000 words (about a 15 minute listen when spoken out loud).

Saturday: I’m now pushing towards 1000 words of chapter two, and another 500ish of what I think will be the first chapter. Got into a bit of a groove this evening, it sometimes feels a bit like running does, when it’s good it is very very good. There’s a rhythm and flow where time just slides by unnoticed. Saturday’s writing felt just like that.

Sunday: Today was about finishing my blog post about becoming a vegan (which I’m very proud of – both the blog and the fact of it!) and putting that aside for one final edit. We all lead busy lives, and unless we happen to be one of the few who are talented enough (and fortunate enough) to be paid to write, we fit it around everything else in our lives.

A good week with the pen & laptop I reckon.

I have started To Paradise this week. 100 pages in (of the 700 or so!) and after devouring Yanagihara’s A Little Life a couple of years ago, I reckon she’s right up there with the best when it comes to prose at the sentence level.

But Where Will You Get Your Protein?

“I’m not looking for someone to cook for!”

Nicky, my better half, announced on our first date.

This suited me fine as I love cooking.

I moved in with Nicky once that became easier than trying to get me to remove all of my belongings. I’d accidently left things each time I visited. From that day on, I have probably cooked about three quarters of our meals. And we’ve always eaten well I think.

And then we became vegans, and our kitchen dynamic changed.

But before we get on to that, let’s back track….. We’ve talked about become vegan for a few years now. Many of the endurance athletes we look up to have a vegan lifestyle. Not only are these guys and girls at the pointy end of their sports, they always look so flippin well.

We talk about becoming vegans, then it stalls. Again. We just couldn’t imagine ourselves without a roast, or cheese, or without chicken in our curry………

It was a cycle we were stuck in. But each time it came around, the subject was getting more and more agenda time at our house meetings. We needed something, we knew not what, to push us over the line.

We did genuinely asked ourselves the protein question (chick peas, tofu, oats, nuts, lentils….. pretty much every ingredient as it turns out). We also worried the food would be boring and predictable, although we knew our regular go-to dishes had become boring and predictable anyway.

Change was coming.

The decider for me happened about six months before we actually made the leap. I was running in a 100k event, The Ham And Lyme. It is an out-and-back course starting and finishing in Lyme Regis and turning at Ham Hill in Somerset. Out-and-back that is, unless you get lost (twice!) during the ‘out’ section! If, like me, you are that getting lost type runner, you will only experience some of the actual course on the way back (I added about 5 bloomin’ kilometres to my day!)

One of the sights I didn’t see until I was on my way back was a massive, I mean MASSIVE, factory dairy farm. I will not describe it here, but all I could think was, I want no further part in this.

I’m not that strong though am I? Six months later, still eating animal products, and I get wiped out by Covid. On the couple of days during which I was genuinely fearful for my health with the virus, I started really questioning some of my life choices. I’d trained so feckin’ hard all winter to be ready for The Arc 50 and here I was, a week before the event, unable to climb the stairs. I know the virus was the cause, but I felt, at that low point, it was time to make some changes.

My two favourite podcasts are Running Commentary and Other PPL. One of the presenters of Running Commentary, Rob Deering and Other PPL host, Brad Listi happen to be vegans. Neither have ever come across as preachy in anyway but if it ever comes up, they are both proud, happy and feel good on their plant based diet. In one interview on Other PPL, Listi made the comment I’ve used myself, he wanted no further part in the violence of it all. That has stayed with me, always will I think. On a lighter note, I also remember Deering recounting a trip abroad (I want to say Dubai but I might be wrong), after asking the waiting staff at a restaurant for their vegan options, he was offered a chicken salad!

I knew, Nicky knew, we both knew, that our snacking habits contributed to us always exhibiting a bit more ‘love handle’ than we would ideally like to. But more than that, our conversations about becoming vegans had become so frequent, so serious that we were both ready for that final trigger.

The trigger arrived in Cornwall. Enjoying the trip whilst convalescing from Covid, I sauntered into The Bookseller in St Ives and purchased (along with a few other titles, I mean it would be rude not to) Ed Winter’s new book, Vegan Propaganda. I absolutely promised not to become ‘preachy’, although, 65 days in to our vegan journey, I get it, so if you fancy reading Ed Winter’s remarkable book then the link is there. It had a massive impact on me. It brought me to tears, reaffirmed much of what I already knew or believed and the book definitely gave us that final push.

Here’s where the story gets fun.

Nicky absolutely went for it. We both did. But Nicky was in charge of the kitchen before I could say ‘black bean burrito’! She was now definitely happy to have someone to cook for!

We have acquired several amazing vegan cook books, the best of which is BOSH! and Nicky set to equipping and stocking our kitchen to accommodate our new way of eating.

I’ve been keeping a diary of how we feel and what we are eating. We are just over two months along as I write and I can honestly say, I have never eaten so well. “We’re eating like kings!” I tell anyone who will listen. And I mean it, we are enjoying food like never before. In the 60+ days since we’ve been vegan, we’ve only eaten one meat substitute meal – that was some sausages which were actually rather splendid.

Our stomachs took some adjusting to our new routine, we definitely live on the windy South West peninsula! During the first week we both felt odd somehow, very hard to explain. By the very nature of the foods we cook with, our fibre intake has increased. This is healthy of course, but takes a bit of adjusting to. Oat milk has been introduced to the fridge which is great in coffee and we’ve both stopped having breakfast cereal.

We bought one of those Nutribullet thingies and have a smoothie to start every day. This has really helped with cutting down food waste, it is amazing how a bit of overly soft cucumber can get mixed in unnoticed.

“But what are you going to EAT?”

a very close family member asked

They were genuinely concerned. Well, I’ve littered this post with pictures of our meals and my dear mother needn’t have worried. In fact, she’s now enjoying finding out how we’re doing and devoured the vegan roast loaf dinner we cooked for them.

The positives so far?

We are certainly sleeping better, we’ve both lost a healthy amount of weight without even thinking about it and we feel we are taking steps which are vital for our long term health as well as the health of the world we live in.

Write Back Where I Belong

Week One Of The Comeback Is Complete

Well if the tax year started last week, then why shouldn’t the writing year, or for that matter the running year.

Running

Ahhh, the running year has got off to a hobbling start. I did go for a run on Tuesday. I quickly, and sadly, learned that my toe, foot thing definitely hasn’t healed. Luckily it only hurts when I use it……

Trying to be positive though, I can still do all the non weight bearing stuff in the gym and have swam a startling number of lengths during the week. I know I’m lucky to still be able to use my energy and I’ll wait for an actual medical professional to diagnose my foot rather than using Dr Google!

Writing

Monday: I finished writing, edited and published a blog post. It is the first self reflection on my writing for, oo, too fucking long. Clicketyclick HERE to have a butchers.

Tuesday: I pulled out a piece of flash fiction, or is it a short story, which has been working its way to the front of my consciousness for a week or so. Its working title is Why I Became A Grass and it was sparked by an unusually quiet shop I regularly walk past which appears to be thriving without ever seeming to have a customer!? about 700 words drafted.

Wednesday: I gave up on any notion that there isn’t something wrong with my fucking foot. In it’s last hurrah we finally got all the baby stuff in the loft and moved the electric piano upstairs. Phew!!

Anyway, a bit more work on the piece I was writing yesterday. Just another 500ish words today.

I’m pleased to say, he bloomin’ loves the library.

Thursday: reached 1700 words in my short story / flash fiction and called it 1st draft. It’s got a couple of lead characters, a bit of a story and a sort of truth running through it. I will return and edit and then consider 1st readers.

Also on Thursday, I spent some time reading poetry craft books. We took our youngest grandson, Charlie, to the library and managed to find a few books for myself as well as him! I’ve remembered that I appeared in an anthology last year and have had a couple of pieces featured here and there. So, with a motivational “c’mon Kevin!” I’m making the most of every moment to get some words scribbled.

Friday: I started a random stream of consciousness project on Scrivener. Some of the writing I’ve enjoyed most has started using this method. I just set a timer and write the words that appear in my head for 20 minutes or however long is available to me. I have to thank the brilliant Writers HQ for getting me into using the timer. I set the timer on my phone and then put it on the other side of the room. I find I can get into a zen like state and my writing becomes meditative. So much so, I’m often shocked and disappointed when the time is up! This particular project started with me typing “I need to be less easily distracted” and finished with a pretty strong story idea set around a massive clock in a railway station.

Saturday: I set about preparing to collate all the pieces I’ve written so far towards my novel. I started scribbling around with it (working title Dogs That Don’t Look Like Their Owners) in 2018. It has been a hit and miss affair as regards making progress, but I worked through the Plotstormers course on Writers HQ, trying to put the parts I have written into some sort of order. And now I’m using their First Draft modules to help me build up some momentum. If the first draft of DTDLLTO is to be 90,000 words or so, I need to write an average of about 400 a day if I’m to have a body of work ready for editing by the end of the year. Doesn’t sound like much……….

Sunday: I guess this was contemplation day!

My journal is still getting its daily words too and, you know what, I’m really enjoying my writing again. Which is all I really need from it.

In the words of the great A.L. Kennedy, onwards………..

Fight For Your Write

One Word At A Time

It doesn’t matter what I am attempting in life: To progress, to proceed, to move on, to enjoy for goodness sake, there has to be a positive force behind me. That could be as clichéd as the wind literally at my back when I’m running. It could be the metaphorical wind at my back when I’m writing.

I need good, healthy energy. And a clear, even empty mind.

Distractions need to stop being distractions.

The dust and rubble of life’s challenges, the shroud of despair at news I can’t influence and the frustrations of everything I haven’t done, they all keep that wind from my back.

The writer in me gets buried beneath the clutter all too often. I know this, and I know it is mostly of my own making.

I cannot change what I haven’t yet done. Frustrations at my missed opportunities need to be acknowledged, but then forgotten.

Learn. Move on. Simple.

The great man back in the day.

The first draft of this blog post was written long hand, in my notebook, whilst munching on a avocado, red pepper and lettuce bagel, wedged in my work van, taking my lunch break. Just typing this paragraph gives me momentum, positivity, that clichéd wind in my sails!

The habits of 2020 and 2021 are returning. In both my reading and my writing. Take a bow Stephen King, because your gorgeous memoir and craft volume, On Writing, has yet again invigorated me. I own a well thumbed copy which has been devoured over and over. Not only that, On Writing has been my aural companion in the van for the last few shifts. Narrated by the great man himself too.

I’m hardly a fan boy, nor a religious devotee of King’s novels, but I know bloomin’ great writing when I see it. On Writing has fanned the winds of change at my back and I am letting it carry me.

A quick word for A.L. Kennedy’s writing craft volume of the same name too. A wonderful book which I’ve also devoured a few times.

Mobile telephone habits had started creeping back in, I was sinking into a “what’s the feckin’ point?” mood too regularly and spending far too long enacting the scroll of doom. I’ve got an app now which monitors my phone use and pings embarrassing messages on to the screen. These shame me into putting the thing down. It’s working too, I’m still keeping up to date with my little Twitter world, but avoiding getting sucked down an angry hole full of internet gloom.

I think about writing a lot. Nibbly, scratchy and proddy ideas whisper, or even shout sometimes, at my subconscious. These all keep me moving forward if I embrace them. The muse is back! Never went away really, I was just letting the bugger become idle. No more though, if he (or she or they) want to reside in my soul, then there is rent to pay. The rent is handed over in the currency of ideas, and there is no limit to how much I’ll accept.

Grandson, Charlie checking my notes.

All this enthusiasm returning to me and my writing is almost overwhelming. Previously, I might have got carried away with myself. Another lesson I’ve learned is to temper my short term ambitions. I do have a tendency to lose all sense of reality if I have a good day. “Excellent, I’ve written a thousand words, The Booker Prize will surely be mine next year“! That sort of thing.

If I have a flying thousand word day, I now bank it, but will happily settle for just a few notes in my journal the following day if that’s what time allows for.

Alison Kennedy is a bit of a hero of mine!

As Stephen King would answer in an interview “How do I write? One. Word. At. A. Time.”

Nicky, (regular readers will know Nicky through the gushing romantic references, prolifically scattered throughout my blog posts) my amazing lady wife, has always been 100% behind my writing ambitions and is frustrated on my behalf if I get stuck in a gloomy dead end. It is at best naïve and forgetful and at worse unfair and ungrateful for me to blame ‘family pressures‘ when my writing slows or stalls. Hell, even my brother eagerly offered to be a first reader. Nope, my family have my back, and I’d do well to remember that in darker times.

Some days are mostly fully booked before I get to add in ‘my’ goals. But if I’m honest they’re probably only 75% pre booked, even on the busiest days. The problem comes when I misuse the other 25% by wallowing and shouting at the unfairness of everything on the internet. Just accepting these truths helps, even the act of typing this gets me determined to be more focussed on being productive in the time windows which open up for me.

In our spare room we have bunk beds, a turbo trainer, more books shelves, AND A DESK! If I don’t want to be disturbed, why not go and sit at it!?

King is ruthless. He encourages us all to write, but offers no secrets, no hacks, no ‘cheats’, but insists “If you don’t want to work your ass off, you have no business trying to write well.

A big up too for Writers HQ, their courses, blogs, writers’ tools and resources are arranged, as they say, to fit in with “bad ass writers with no time or money“! For a mere score (£20) each month you get access to everything they have to offer. I always try to do their snappy short course each month and have ongoing work-in-progress folders for some of their longer offerings. Checking in with Writers HQ once a day helps to wobble my head and prompt new thoughts and ideas.

What am I actually working on then?

I’ve got a flash fiction piece I’m batting around and there’s some new content appearing in my Scrivener which could well find its way into the novel (which I’ve only been working in for 4 years now!).

I like the idea of a regular blog post updating where my writing is at. It is the first week of April, the first week of the 2nd quarter of the year and it feels like I’m lining at the start of something.

What does that mean in reality?

We’ll have to wait and see.

Whatever progress I make this coming month, it’ll be………

ONE. WORD. AT. A. TIME.

Reset The Dials

Quite a lot.

Is the answer.

To what question?

Maybe this one:

Anything new in my life since I wrote this manifesto?

Yup. Quite a lot indeed.

A quarter of the year has now gone. I can’t think of anything in which I’ve achieved anywhere near a quarter of my aims.

Which sounds rather negative when I say it outloud.

To discover what’s been going on, let’s unpack my 2022 manifesto.

My Journal

At least my first pledge is going well! I said I’d write in my journal every single day, and I’m pleased to say that I always, always do. Winning eh? One nil up and we’ve only just kicked off. (Spoiler alert, this isn’t going to be a goal fest!)

Submitting Fiction

Ah. Well, er, well, you see, hhmmm. I’ve submitted a couple of times to Paragraph Planet (with one success!) but, alas, I am yet to enter the Friday Flash Fiction Face Off at Writers HQ. It just hasn’t happened. Read on to find out why?

Obviously work has to be fitted in occasionally too!

The Novel

I don’t even need to look back to remind myself of this pledge! I know it was to work for two hours every single week. And I know I haven’t. And I’m disgusted with myself. Disgusted I am. What’s going on? Read on to find out.

This Blog

I don’t need to look back for these pledges either! I know I’ve not contributed a single post since the turn of the year. Not one. To think there was a time when I hoped to review every book I’ve read, never mind any other posts I fancied writing. It’s not going very well is it, this manifesto. Imagine if you’d voted for me and it turned out I couldn’t keep a single promise I’d made….

Reading

Well, at least some success here to report. I pledged I’d buy from independent publishers and book shops and I’m pleased to say I’ve been good with that. Looking at my to-be-readpile alongside books I’ve read waiting for Nicky to enjoy, there’s a few there which have come direct from indies as well as a couple bought in independent book shops.

I haven’t one poem a day (another of my pledges) but I have acquired a few fine volumes and do enjoy a few poems each week.

I also pledged to read at least 6 books (over the course of 2022) which were published at least 10 years ago. The idea being that I don’t simply follow the current fads and trends (although I hope I never have) and browsed the shelves more. Reading is happening a lot more slowly this year, for the reasons you’ll discover if you can bear to read on. I have been buying a few older books though, and have added to the backlog with some excellent charity shop hauls. So far in 2022 I’ve read these books, check out my lists from 2021 and 2020 too.

Running, Health and Fitness

I never made any pledges for my running, other than to run as much as I can and/or want to. The events I listed in my manifesto are either long gone or fast approaching and I’m not looking like toeing the start line of any of them. Read on to discover why.

As for my health, well quite a lot has happened to impact my hopes for 2022. I’ve had some serious down time and have not been hitting my strength and conditioning targets. But, I don’t feel I’ve let myself down as there has been a dramatic hit to my health this year. As I keep saying, read on……

Why Oh Why And Why Again

The Good Stuff

We bloomin’ love him, and he seems quite happy to knock about with us oldies!

Nanny & Grandad Daycare: We look after our latest grandson, Charlie, 3 days a week. He is an absolute delight, a bubbly baby with a zest for life. But maybe we didn’t quite acknowledge just how tiring this might be! It is an absolute joy to spend the time with him and watch him grow and develop.

This simply shuffles other things down the league table of priorities. And sometimes we just want to eat (ah, eating…. read on my friend, read on) and chill. Picking up a pen and notebook, or sitting at my desk typing gives way to a binge of Drive To Survive or something similar.

Call the cute police!

As we become more accustomed to our roles, I’m sure we’ll find more of our other leisure pursuits fitting in to the time available (hence this blog post happening now). None of our challenges have disappeared they’ve simply been moved around to suit our lifestyle.

Talking Of Lifestyle: We have Become Vegans: And what a bloomin’ transformation this has been. We’ve both made difficult decisions before in our lives. We’ve both found better tracks to follow over the years and feel blessed that we ended up on the same track as each other. But this lifestyle change has been such a shift in thinking and everything about it has been positive. Neither of us are interested in becoming preachy about veganism, we just know it is exactly right for us. This was the moment when everything aligned for us to make the change.

And don’t worry, we’re getting plenty of protein!

In fact, as I keep telling people, we are eating like a king and queen. The final push to make the change was probably as a result of something far less positive.

The Bad Stuff: Covid

I wasn’t a happy bunny!

As anyone who was willing to listen, or to read this blog, would know, Nicky and I have a real love affair with Cornwall (Nicky was born at Long Rock for a start) and particularly the many coastal running events we’ve enjoyed down there. This year I was finally going to toe the line of the iconic Arc Of Attrition 50 and I had trained well throughout the autumn and winter, I was ready. About 10 days before The Arc I started to feel a bit ill, and a couple of days later I was testing positive, coughing relentlessly and felt truly awful. Luckily, Nicky got off pretty lightly, but I took to the box room and curled up in a ball of self pity. I was testing negative by race day but was getting breathless so quickly I couldn’t have contemplated 12 hours on the remotest, most challenging coastline in the far southwest of Cornwall.

Covid seemed to impact everything for those couple of weeks, and certainly sucked the energy and zest out of me, and to a certain extent Nicky. I don’t want to be dramatic but I couldn’t even be bothered to read my book and certainly didn’t write anything.

For those who were wondering how Charlie is. He’s still going strong in his 13th year.

Recovery from Covid is ongoing and I’m nursing a niggly foot after standing on a rock. DOH!

We’ve got so much to be thankful for though and I will never take for granted that I have been blessed with sharing my life with such a wonderful, funny, clever, inspiring, encouraging and quite beautiful lady wife Nicky. Not only that, our amazing family , our returning health and living in such a gorgeous part of the world.

As for my personal challenges, let’s just see where it all goes.