My 2017: May

I guess most of us want to be fit and healthy.. for those of us prone to putting on and finding it impossible to shift  extra pounds it’s a continual battle. May… the beginning of summer, that’s when there is the most inspiration to tackle the difficulty because there is so much lovely and delicious fresh produce available… but it’s not just the calories being consumed, it’s the calories being expended.

Here is what I wrote in May:

Writing is my passion and it’s what I do from the moment I get up till last thing at night… but it is very sedentary; when I am immersed in my work I remain still and unmoving, apart from my fingers and brain for sometimes an hour at a time… and I actually know  this isn’t good! It doesn’t just mean I’m not very fit, but I’m also not using the calories I take in – and you know what that means!

So… exercise… I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ve discussed how I’ve tried to do more exercise. When I was young I cycled and walked everywhere, and since school was four miles away and the swimming pool nearly two miles from home, I was doing at least ten miles a day on my bike. And swimming… when I was training properly I was doing about forty miles a week plus weights and circuit training. Thinking about it now, I must have been so fit as a young person! Unlike now…

My difficulty is, as I’ve written about previously, I can’t think of any exercise or activity I would be interested enough in pursuing that I would keep doing it. Swimming now bores me… the noise in the pool, the lane swimming with people either dawdling in front, or swimming on my heels, the music – yes they play music in the swimming pool, now why? And the actual activity no longer appeals to me.

So join a gym people say – yes we did; it was expensive but it was small and busy and the equipment often wasn’t very clean, and our supposed ‘trainer’ didn’t help us… and as we were only doing it to try and improve our fitness, there wasn’t the added incentive of actually enjoying it. We became more and more reluctant to go, even though we tried going at different times in the hope of finding it less crowded… but I think even if we had, it would have been a chore, and the TV screens everywhere put me off… oh and the music…

So something simple like walking… yes we go out walking, but it’s not very interesting, is it?… we take our cameras which slow us down, and walking out from home isn’t very exciting – yes, we live by the sea, but the beach is flat and dull, and the sea is not the splashy sort and being on an estuary is a sedimentary brown.  We go further afield and go for walks… but to be honest, we’re more keen on museums, art galleries, interesting and odd towns, church architecture, markets…

So sports and clubs? Yes, there are activities near us, but none appeal and to be honest, we’re too old for a lot of them! Bowling? Sorry no… badminton – have I told you about my lack of hand-eye co-ordination? So tennis is out, but I hate tennis anyway.. Keep-fit? Absolutely and utterly not… Golf? Too expensive, ditto skiing, even if we could ski, which we can’t, and the same with sailing…

My husband is a drummer, and apparently … “A study conducted by the Universities of Gloucestershire and Chichester has concluded that drumming is an equivalent workout to playing in a Premier League football match.” So since he plays a couple of times a week, and also goes to ‘sessions’, (and lugging a kit around is like a weights work-out) so he probably is quite fit, and quite fit by doing something he really enjoys!

So what do I do? I go on the Wii fit… it may not be the same as ‘real’ exercise, but it is something I do every day, I’m consistent, and dedicated; I do it in 30-40 minute sessions, plus odd five minutes here and there when I am stuck with my writing. Running on the Wii maybe not as good as running outside, but I do it and I do it every day…

I still look round for activities, but until I find one, I’ll keep Wii-ing!

So… the problem arise because of my writing… here is an interview I did with myself about writing –

  • When did you first start writing, and who inspired you?

I told stories before I ever could write them down; I guess I got this from both my parents who were wonderful story-tellers, imagined tales as well as incidents from their own lives, vividly told to me and my sister. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t have stories running through my mind!

  • What is a typical writing day for you?

The first thing I do in the morning, fortified by tea, is sit here and write… maybe blogging first and then onto my current ‘project’, or maybe if I’ve been puzzling over it, straight into my actual writing. I continue through the day, in between going out, meeting people, teaching my writing classes, doing housework, shopping etc., and then most evenings I work until bedtime… which maybe 1 or 2 in the morning!

  • You write one blog and are very involved in another… does this not take you away from your ‘real’ writing?

I started my blog as a way of publicising my work – as a self-published author, I don’t have anyone else but me to try and get my novels ‘out there’. However, I have found that writing blogs has been a great way of practicing my craft (if you want to call it that) and writing in different ways and on different topics; I have also ‘met’ some great fellow-bloggers! It has forced me to get over ‘writer’s block’ – which has a positive effect on my other writing.

  • What are you working on at the moment?

Lois: While I had my day job, before I was liberated, writing was tucked in odd corners and at odd hours and although I write several novels, I wrote them in bits and pieces – they need a lot of editing! I am at present working on an unfinished novel from that time… but I also have other plans in mind too!

  • You have just published the fifth novel in your Radwinter series… do any of those writing plans involve more adventures for Thomas Radwinter?

Yes indeed! When I have finished the editing of the novel I was telling you about, I will get going on the next Radwinter book – to be honest, I can’t wait! Very excited about the new one!

  • You often have a woman as a lead character, are any of your ‘heroines’ based on yourself?

No, not at all. Some of them share aspects of my character, quite a few are teachers because that is what I was and it’s a world I know. Most of my characters are much more determined and focussed than I am, and don’t have a silly side to their personality, which I definitely have.  In actual fact, the character nearest to me in personality isn’t a woman at all, but a man – Thomas Radwinter!

  • Which of you published novels are you most proud of?

I’m proud of all of them; however I am proud of my first published novel, Farholm, because it was my first, and my Radwinter series because I never ever imagined I would write a sequel, let alone a series!

  • Why do you self-publish with Kindle Direct Publishing?

Like many, many writers, I have sent off scores of manuscripts to dozens and dozens of publishers and agents; I have entered competitions, I have done all I can to get my stories into print.  I have never had any luck (because I’m sure luck is the main part of the business) and have been ripped off a couple of times. KDP allowed me to put my books out in the big wide world, and I really appreciate it… however my continued dream is to be taken up by an actual publisher and to see my name on the shelves of bookshops!

  • You’re a writer – are you also a reader, and if so what do you like to read and what are you reading at the moment?

Yes, an addicted reader. I like books which contain some mystery or puzzle, so often they are crime books and police procedurals; I particularly like Icelandic authors such as Arnaldur Indriðason, Ragnar Jónasson, Viktor Arnar Ingólfsson and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. However at the moment I am reading ‘Perverse and Foolish’ by Lucy M. Boston (author of the Green Knowe books for children) ‘South: The Story of Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Expedition’ by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton and ‘Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy’ by Robert H. Frank… So no fiction! The last fiction I read and really enjoyed was ‘The Red Tent’ by Anita Diamant. I am really not very keen on ‘women’s literature’, and I am very intolerant of pretentious writing – and novels written in the present tense!

  • What advice would you give to anyone who says they think they have a book in them but don’t know how to write it?

Don’t worry about the first sentence and the beginning – especially with the technology we have now, it is so easy to go back and change, alter, rewrite – not like it used to be with a pen or a typewriter! Just start – even in the middle! Get something down on paper and keep going. Joining a writing group can be really helpful – there are plenty of on-line groups if you aren’t able or are shy of meeting others. There is no set way to write, everyone has their own style so don’t try and write like anyone but yourself, but at the same time if someone offers kindly constructive criticism, listen to it, think about it and then either take it or forget it! The main thing is to write! Just that! Sit down at your computer, laptop or desk, with your keyboard, pen or pencil and get writing!

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