Enter Title here…

 

As mentioned previously I have adopted the BulletJournal system for keeping myself organised and (relatively) on top of things, both personally and professionally. And it is working. More than a week on and I am finding myself a lot less stressed at home and at work.

I have been accused of having lots of plans and not achieving them. A while ago this stung. A lot. And I changed things because of it.

Today… I’m fine with that. I don’t mind entertaining the idea of having a hundred things I want to try or do. I might not do them all, or many of them, but as long as I am doing and achieving some of them then I don’t see what the problem is.

A little while ago I created this:

BusinessCard1 v2 - 131113 small

I can ‘archer’ to that. I can ‘config chap’ to that. I can add ‘Cost Account Manager’ to that. I can add… all the things I enjoy and do and am. I don’t have a problem with that. I am more than one thing. I always will be.

One of the things that has been fascinating me has been the idea of goal/objective setting. It is that time of the year, when I have to (professionally) set goals for myself, and with their input, for my team.

And, like last year, and the year before that, and the one before that, those goals and and objectives will be somewhat irrelevant by the time half a year has passed. Ditto the majority of those New Year’s resolutions too. It is just the way of things. Life changes, things happen, new stuff stirs the mix and spanners the works. Shit happens.

So I have been investigating the idea of not goal setting, the creation of systems or the embodiment of direction over destination. And I am beginning to be a believer. Let me illustrate.

I aim to write a novel. I have failed. I have failed all the way up until I do eventually manage to do that. I want to run 26.2 miles. I have failed until I do it, actually do it. As an aside, part of the reason I fell out of love with running was because I was three days away from running a marathon, with just enough miles under my belt to do it… and I fell ill. I couldn’t run. And I felt abject. I still do.

However… if I intend to be more creative… then every little step of that is a win, psychologically. If I do something creative today it is something more than I have done before. The direction I go in isn’t necessarily towards the destination I had in mind, but it changes each step from a failure to an achievement. And each achievement makes each step easier and more likely to take place. And each step leads to habit, which leads, eventually, to whichever place you end up. Which isn’t the same place you were when you began the whole thing, and may not be the place you dreamed of, but is a place worth visiting. Because of the journey. Just because. And perhaps you never end up there, you just continue journeying, changing direction, doing things, on a whim or otherwise.

This piece of tribute art to Bill Watterson, utilising a speech of his, is still one of the most effective, illustrative and pertinent expressions of ‘just doing’ there is.

Invent your own labels. Dreams your dreams. Set off for destinations unknown. Invent your own life’s meaning.

In a world that continues to demand of us compliance and homogenisation, that forces singular labels and asks of us one dream… it is still allowed to be whatever you will be.

a run

I done a run today and it was good. Okay it wasn’t. It was only 2.6 miles but that was better than I expected and worse than I hoped. Bits of me hurt, as expected but a muscle in my lower back really hurt half a mile in and took another mile and a half to settle. I’m dreadfully unfit, over-weight and ill-prepared for what lies ahead.

On the other hand I done a run today and it was good. The very early morning was dark, bitterly cold and very quiet. Almost serene. It was nice to get out and be reminded why I run and why I run early in the morning or late at night. It was nice to be running again, and feel positive about it. It was nice to realise how much I actually do miss it.

 

jose on the run (again)

This month has been a total washout in the running department. I signed up for four events, failed to do two of them and now won’t be able to do the third in a couple of weeks, mostly due to lack of training and partly to do with cracking my ribs.

It has been quite hard to pinpoint why I’ve fallen out of the groove with running. I do still love it, but I just don’t have the oomph / get up and go / enthusiasm for it. It has been months since I ran seriously, and many more since I trained seriously. And that isn’t good.

Today was the Bristol 10K and a number of my friends were running it. I joined EF on the CLIC Sargent bus to cheer everyone one (not the easiest of things with very sore ribs) and, well, I felt the buzz. Part of that was the atmosphere (and the CLIC lot are good at atmosphere), part of it was the crowds, and a good chunk of it was watching the runners go past. It was particularly lovely to see Matt, Joanne and Ramon run past, each of them overcoming personal circumstance to be there, each of them looking comfortable and happy.

It was great. I am so proud of them, and am proud to know them and see them do it. The only way,it could have been better is if I had run it with them.

I have five months to go from 0 miles to 26. Not impossible, but a challenge regardless. Some of those weeks will be spent recovering from this injury, but I think I can do it.

I can but try. I want to run again. I want that weirdly painful / effortless / floaty feeling of when the miles no longer matter and you are simply just running. I miss it. I miss the challenge and the joy.

It is time to go on the run again. It is time for mantras and stubbornness. It is time for positive thoughts and being all about the run.

After all, in my world, it used to be all about the run. And it can be once again.

 

 

Some of it is a bit rubbish

I am in one of this funny places at the moment. The running is non-existent, the writing is going through a massive crisis of confidence and I am in the middle of a job change (possibly).

Everything else is pretty damned fine otherwise.

The job thing is just distracting, a situation somewhat exacerbated by the fact that the HRs of the company I work for and the company I am hoping to be seconded into are still debating the particulars of my package, with no one else (me, managers, directors, whomever) any the wiser about what is happening. Typically HR I guess.

The two other things are what worry me, although the running does to a lesser extent. I know that if I just get out of the house and onto the path and start running that the love and the joy of it will eventually come back.

The writing is something I am really struggling with. Badly. Let me illustrate. Five weeks ago I started Nik Perring‘s well regarded flash fiction writing course. Five weeks later I am still yet to deliver my first assignment to him. The poor man has been most patient with me.

It’s not that I haven’t been writing (although there has been an element of that), it is a lot to do with me writing something, reading it, rewriting it and then doing the digital equivalent of screwing it up and throwing it in the bin. I pretty much am disliking everything I write at the moment.

Somewhere do I go from here? Well, this weekend is a free one. Other than lunch with a friend on Saturday and a night out with EF on Sunday I am free. So for much of Saturday to Monday will be spent writing, getting words down without analysing or worrying about it. I may even get a run in.

 

To run or not to run?

… Not to run.

The Forest of Dean Half is on in less than seven days and I am not ready. I haven’t run enough, trained enough and to be entirely honest, I am not enjoying running at all at the moment. Certainly not distances. The fitness is almost there but the conditioning isn’t and running hurts more than it should.

Of the four events I have booked this year, I am zero from two. Not good. And not where I wanted to be.

So, I am going to regroup, get my running head straight and aim for the Mull of Kintyre Half at the beginning of June, possibly via the Bristol 10K mid-May. And from there it will be the long haul to the marathon at the end of September.

bits and bobs and stuff

I haven’t done one of these in a long while, but as I am in a surprisingly upbeat mood…

***

This weekend I took an old friend to the airport for her month long trip to South America and, as is usually the case, she has lent me her car whilst she is away.

And it is bloody addictive. And convenient. And easy to use. And…

Bugger. I don’t need a car, I know this, and what I am not spending on a car can go elsewhere and not having a car means I maintain a decent level of fitness. But what a siren owning a car is. It isn’t helped by the fact that I have spent the best part of £300 on the City Car Club during November/December.

EF was surprised at how tense and aggressive I get when in a car (just more so, I am pretty laid back generally) and today’s trip into work highlighted that feeling of tension, and the fact I missed my walk into work from the train station. And I missed being able to read whilst I did so.

Hmmm. I am of a mind to see how I feel in the summer and decide then. But a big part of me is adamant that I stay car-less.

***

I ran 4.7 miles this evening, and it felt good. That is a lie. The first 1.5 miles were horrendous, painful, awkward, heavy, etc. After that it got much easier and I finished quite strongly, which was immensely pleasing.

A far cry from being able to run 17 miles only 2 2.5 months ago, but then I have hardly run since then, so it isn’t unsurprising. Ah well, I will soon recover it if I train as I have planned.

***

On the subject of planning and training I have signed up for the following during 2012:

  • The Weston-super-mare Tough Ten (February)
  • The Forest of Dean Half-marathon (April)
  • The Mull of Kintyre Half-marathon (June)
  • The Loch Ness Marathon (September)

I’m toying with the Bristol 10k (if I am not in the US) and the Sodbury Slog in November. If I do go to the USA I am thinking about entering something over there in May.

We shall see!

***

There is an awful lot of writing going on here at the moment, although most of it isn’t to do with the novel in progress. There is the Tuesday Serial (based on the first draft of 2011′s abortive NaNoWriMo fantasy effort), Friday Flash (which may or may not be based around the Company, subject of my first Friday Flash post), the Ghostchild and Golden Monkey series and adhoc Watershed Writers Block challenges.

The first three are generally posted on Tuesday (obviously), Friday (obviously, again) and Sunday. Just so you know.

***

The ever lovely Dolly Garland has had a snoop at my bookshelves (well, she asked some questions). If you are interested you can find the post here.

***

Finally, before you are all bored to tears, I am going to bite the bullet and grow a magnificent beard… like this:

or this:

a dib of this, a dab of that

Monday saw the only my fourth run of the last eight weeks, and boy, was I creaky. The first couple of miles hurt, no doubt about that, but then… then the muscles and bones and bits of cartilage and lungs and all other associated hanging together bits remembered how it all went and everything fell into place. Those following two and half miles were much, much better. I’m not there yet, I need to run and run and run, but that lovely feeling of being able to run 18 miles in one go will return. Eventually.

***

I’ve been reading a lot of cool stuff of late, in between the massive tomes I have been re-reading, and wow, there are some good writers out there.

Paintworks by Tim Maughan (who was excellent at BristolCon) is a superb read, very much capturing the flavour of the near future in its exploration of QR codes, graffiti, augmented reality and gaming. Let’s put it this way, I read it once on the way to work and then again on the way back from work.

Shotgun Gravy by Chuck Wendig (twittery, bloggy, authory person) is the first of four novellas in the Atlanta Burns quartet. This seems to touch on the whole gamut of angst, pain and trials of growing up in small-town fucked up America, with all its insecurities, prejudices and disfunction. Atlanta Burns, the protagonist, is superbly realised and I spent the whole time thinking “Yay! Noooooooo! Yay! Nononononoooooooooooo! Aaargh! Noooooooo! WHAT?! Noooooooooooo!” Etc.

More please.

I have just started reading Emma Newman‘s short story anthology From Dark Places… and gosh… it’s good! I’ll let you know more when I finish it.

As an aside, Pete Newman (husband to Emma above) is a cracking writer too. He is currently writing The Vagrant, an instantly-grabbing-you-by-the-lapels-and-dragging-you-into-thepost-apocalypotic-esque-SF-setting series of flash short stories that you really,really should read.

I am thoroughly enjoying the shorter novel/novella/short story format at the moment. Whilst I adore, and always will adore, the large volume, never-ending serieseses of books I have been immersed in (Malazan Book of the Fallen, Sword of Shadows, Rothfuss’ Kvothe series, Thomas Covenant Chronicles, Gormenghast, etc) the short form is giving me much pleasure at the moment.

***

I am writing this on a train, on my way to foggy Fareham from foggy Bristol through foggy England. Courtesy of a colleague’s constant playing of their album, I am currently ear-deep in Erasure’s Total Pop! greatest hits album. And it is surprisingly good.

Don’t snigger, I’ve seen the dark, dim corners of your iTunes library…

Oh yes, yes I have.

***

NaNoWriMo is going really well, thoroughly enjoying (although occasionally not). But for the fact I took yesterday off I am on target and back in the groove. More importantly though the write-ins have been great fun, with lots of new people turning, the scope of their imagination and commitment continuing to stagger and humble me.

On which note I had better stop procrastinating and get on with some writing.

jose on the sidelines

And so I never made it to the starting line of the Loch Ness Marathon. A bad cold which settled in my chest did its best to stop me running.

I went anyway, to watch and cheer on those who were running. Inverness is a lovely little city, invaded as it was by a host of runners and spectators. I was there, at the finish line, early enough to watch the 5k and 10k runners come in, the former astounding me with the speed and determination of the many youngsters who flew through to the finish line. Families ran/jogged/walked together, the atmosphere was genial and very supportive and enthusiastic.

I enjoyed the event, the organisation was superb, and it was nice to stand there and cheer in pretty much every single runner for the 5k, 10k and marathon as they ran through. Thankfully, despite my misgivings about going, it was worth the trip, and made me all the more determined to run it next year.

point·less

adjective /ˈpointlis/

Having little or no sense, use, or purpose

- speculating like this is a pointless exercise

- it’s pointless to plan too far ahead

(of a contest or competitor) Without a point scored

I am sitting here, in the airport, drinking coffee and eating a surprisingly nice, if extortionate in price, chocolate and orange muffin. The airport lounge is busy, but not too busy. It is, in fact, very relaxed.

I should be on my way to Inverness, via Edinburgh, to run the Loch Ness Marathon. As many of you know (a conceit, are there indeed many of you?) I have been training for this marathon for some time. I have both loved and hated the experience. It is something I am glad to have come to the end of, this training. No more stupifyingly long runs. No more forgoing instead of doing. No more dreading, hating and then strangely enjoying those relentless miles.

I am not on my way to Inverness (via Edinburgh) to run the Loch Ness Marathon. I am on my way to Inverness (via Edinburgh) to watch the Loch Ness Marathon, to partake of the atmosphere, to watch wistfully as those brave souls run in. I am going on a bit of a holiday. And it feels oddly pointless.

The purpose of this whole jaunt was to run, to hurt, to achieve and to recover. Now I am simply going to watch, to mooch, to see, to bear witness. And its not the same.

I can’t run on Sunday. Just the effort of getting to the airport (and wandering into town with EF for a slap-up breakfast) has left me short of breath, hurting of lungs and knackered. As obstinate and stubborn as I am (and I am very obstinate and stubborn) I won’t be able to do this. A half, may be. 10k, yeah, I could, it’d hurt. But a marathon? Not on the cards. Not sensible in the slightest. I’m not known for my sensibility, but that would be pushing my tendency to idiocy a little too far.

So I ain’t running (unless I feel stonkingly better on Sunday). I’m going to watch, to clap and to cheer. And next year, next year this won’t be so pointless. Next year I’ll run this marathon and do it as I had hoped to do it. Successfully, obstinately, enjoyably.