Writer’s Big Year: Admiring another writer

I met Felicity Everett, as part of a writers’ lunch group, during her brief decampment to Australia. I read her prior novel, The Story of Us, and recall being most impressed by her terrific grasp of narrative control and characterisation. These are not my writerly strengths. She has a new book out now, The People at Number 9, and exactly the same thoughts went through my head as I powered through it. In this difficult year of reading, I tend to find fault with every book I open, but not this one. I read it in two days and gasped with admiration: if only I can, one day, write this well!

Big Decade: What’s respite from obsession like?

Check out the doppelganger. One of the pair is the intense one, attending to a big year. The other is the relaxing one, enjoying birding in northwest Victoria. Which is which? How would I know?

It felt decidedly strange to do no writing, not even journaling, for five full days. Sleeps were full of dreams. I would have said it was a welcome respite, but the transition back to real life has been a jolt.

Fitness Big Year: Geek and gear

What greater pleasure than buying the gear you need to progress your passion, eh? Research it, ask your friends, equivocate . . . then slap down the dollars! A rookie cyclist like me receives so much advice, so much that I’m wanting to defer, to take pleasure in the deferral. Well, I can announce that I’ve begun acquiring bicycling gear: gifted gel gloves and the little under-seat satchel in the photo. Not exactly profligate, but you need to know this: once the floodgates are opened, there are no limits. Anyone know the price of a better bike?

Fitness Big Year: The pleasure of short

Limpid, blue-sky autumn day in Melbourne. Pressures – work, chores, all of life – crowd me. An appointment in the afternoon, so my mandatory run looms late morning, rather than in the early afternoon. 12 kms, right? Push for the 1,000-km annual goal, right?

Instead, on an impulse, I eased all my worries by charging off along the river and turning back after three kilometres. 6 kms – my shortest run in ever so long. 6:15 minutes/km – my best time this year. Oh and my heart sang!

Fitness Big Year: Jogging can be fun, you know

Undertaking a “big year” isn’t meant to be fun, fun, fun. It’s an obsession, right? Jogging twice weekly since January 1 has tested me: I couldn’t make the 10-km distance, I strained physically, I was mentally troubled. I tried varying my routes to no avail. Exhortations failed. At present I’m experimenting with some sly psychology – if I can’t run 10 kms, why not run 12 kms? So I’ve selected the flattest route around home, permissioned myself to walk/run towards the end of each outing, and plodded, plodded, plodded.

The outcome is good, though not yet conclusive. I can now run continuously for 10-11 kms before needing to stop the final 1-2 kms. Hopefully over the next month I can end up with a “real” (nonstop) jog of 12 kms, further than I’ve done for many years.

But the other day, I discovered something even more important. A trip to Darwin meant I shuffled the order of my exercising, and I jogged on a day after my gym routine. Revelation! For the first time in 2017, I grinned around the entire 12 kms. It has never occurred to me that running the day after pedalling meant my rookie cyclist legs are sore, muscle-sore. My quadriceps need a break before they carry me along footpaths and trails.

A weight eases from my heart: a quarter of the year in, I can start to enjoy this Big Year.