March 2017


It’s all about motivation this month. Or rather, the lack of it. Hard to put your finger on what drives activity but, once the momentum begins to flag, there’s only one way to go:


But that’s not where it has to end. The winter months have a negative effect on me and I know I’ve moaned about it on here to the point of monotony. However, I’m bright enough to know that it’s more down to what’s going on in my head than the actual weather. I have to deal with that, which is why I took a trip to Mars (Photo above as proof). When things aren’t going too well the pot needs stirring. A change of scenery, a new task, a good long run (I’m still working on that one). Distractions take your mind away from the all too familiar set of problems that you are currently wrestling with but, at some point, they have to be faced.

A completed novel that’s gone through an MA that I’m still not happy with. It’s like Pooh’s cloud that follows him around. And a new novel, several chapters written, characters that buzz, a story that excites me and a theme that I’m passionate about. So, why can’t I get on with that either? It’s at times like this that I think maybe starting another project is the right answer. But that’s not true. What is required is fresh eyes to look at old shit.


As well as not writing enough I also (as I mentioned above) am not doing enough exercise. As a result, I am much bigger and heavier than I am happy with. There is only one solution: exercise and diet. I’ve started cutting down on excessive food intake (much easier with the sun shining) and the running will follow. It has to. In the meantime, a change of perspective. Look at yourself in a different light. I’ve done that and quite like the result. All I have to do now is don my trusty trainers and make the illusion a reality. How hard can that be?

Other writers are brilliant for motivation. Chatting to fellow Alumni make me want to break open the laptop and start typing. Listening to a successful writer (no, I am not about to define what one of those is) can have the same effect. I spent an hour and a half, with about twenty other people, in the company of A. L. Kennedy. From the moment she said, ‘Of course, my real name’s Alison.’ I knew I was going to be inspired. Someone who, in my eyes at least, is of huge stature in the writing world took the time to show us just how normal she was and just how pissed off she was at all the niggling little ball-aching problems associated with making shit up in your head and transferring it to paper. We were all as one for that ninety minutes. There was absolutely no excuse to not go home and immediately write something amazing.

One of the main things that many of us noticed with our new friend, Alison, was the level of energy that seemed to flow through and out of her. It was like she’d been fitted with new batteries. And it’s easy to think, ‘Oh, I wish I could be like that.’ But the only reason that she and many other people seem to exude that vitality is that they are fully engaged. Fully and absolutely engaged in what they’re doing and what they’re talking about. And, of course, success can give you that energy but it’s not the only way to acquire it. On the many occasions when I read out short pieces to an audience I have always walked off the stage wondering why the hell I don’t do that every day.


So, that’s the answer, I guess: get off your arse and get some work done. The downward spiral is always there and is always the easiest route (it being downward!) and hauling yourself upright and getting on with the important shit might take a little bit of effort but, in the long term, will make you feel so much better. Lethargy breeds tiredness, activity breeds energy. There’s no doubt about that. There is no finer feeling that sitting on the bed relaxing with a nice cup of tea after a five mile run. Not only have you earned the rest but you can wallow in the feeling of being utterly noble. And now here’s a couple of cocktails to cheer everyone up.

So, where did I put those trainers?

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