Writing Big Year: Why can’t data stop coming in?

South Africa cheated, pretending to embrace the peaceful atom while building nuclear bombs. It recanted and binned its bombs. The South African tale belongs to my book and I’ve researched it to death, in fact I need do no more. At least that’s what I thought until I spied a brand new book, “Revisiting South Africa’s Nuclear Weapons Program.” David Albright is one of the world’s experts on proliferation, so after sighing and whispering “damn,” I chucked the new data onto the Kindle.

Notion for a novel

Does a notion get under your skin? I’d read Mantel’s 2 books, then watched the first episode of this Wolf Hall miniseries . . . too busy, fuggedabout it . . . But no, here’s the notion that compels: Cromwell is the moral f***ker, the frighteningly effective and frightening human operator who, underneath it all, retains a hidden code of morality. You all know someone like that. You want them on your side. I tell you, I’d love to write a novel featuring a “climate change Cromwell.” So onwards, let’s watch the remaining five episodes.

Decision time: 2017 Cycling Big Year

Let’s gamble on a big change, a Cycling Big Year. From January 1, 2017, until December 31, I shall:

  • Cycle each and every day
  • Commit five days of each week to at least one hour, plus two days at two hours minimum
  • Aim over the entire year to clock up 8,000 kms
  • Convert 45 weeks (i.e. 52 weeks less travel/hiking outages) into that 8,000 kms by roughly targeting 180 kms per week

Writing Big Year: Oh, exuberance, save me!

The brain wave was to insert into a pivotal historical moment, handed down by a US president, the likely whereabouts and reactions of nine reactor pioneers across the globe. Well, it reads like magic. Hence the emotion in the photo.

But the flip side is that this required quite some detective work (delays, delays) and it chews up a couple of pages. In the end does it work? I’ll have to wait to read the entire Chapter 5.

Jogging Big Year: Why abandon such wonder?

Jogging an entire year always seemed risky, especially on January 1, but it’s now part of my life. An ingrained habit that invokes wonder week after week.

But I’ve made the decision to switch next year. To ditch the specific fortitude and skill built up over a calendar year, probably never to try it again.

Why? Wear and tear on feet is the most sensible reason; although the feet have held up well, how much longer can they? Secondly, I believe I can get the high of real cardio effort (call it huffing and puffing) with cycling, as long as hills are in the mix. Thirdly, it’s time to try something else, and surely that’s the most implacable logic. A Big Year isn’t a Big Year if it is two years.

Writing Big Year: Forward?

As a geek, I read way too much. I read way too much about writing. Often there seems no point to much of that reading about writing, really, but I do it for some reason that compels. Nearly all of it washes over me – blah blah blah, same old, same old – but when something strikes me, it hits hard.

In “Fierce on The Page: Become the Writer You Were Meant to Be and Succeed on Your Own Terms,” Sage Cohen asks: “Who can you count on for feedback that helps move your work ahead?”

My answer is more important than it first seems: I can count on the Inner City Writers Workshop, a group of disparate writers whose only commonalities are dreams of fame and fortune; at least a modicum of talent (all eight of us are about equal, possessing quite some skills and rough edges); a work ethic within the chaos of life; humor; quick minds. We meet fortnightly. We read and critique. We support, we suggest, we yearn for each other.

Writing those words unearths the real significance of ICWW: no one else in my life always “moves my work forward.” Let me ensure I dig in for the crew.

Writing Big Year: Slave to research

I’m not drafting, back in the 40s and 50s, I’m taking research notes, forward into the 60s and 70s and even later. I know drafting words is the key for me, right now, so why detour into research? Well, if I don’t keep research ahead of wordsmithing, I’ll get swamped sometime down the track. Instinctively, a couple of weeks on this guff is the right thing to do, right now. Am I right? Who knows.

A Hiking Big Year anytime soon?: Part 3

So the Tough Hikes Big Year is on the scrapheap. But I still plan to do something I call a Long Hikes Big Year. A calendar year that might involve four 800-km pilgrimage-style walks, each taking 5 to 7 weeks depending upon my daily commitment. The iconic one is, of course, the Camino de Santiago. Others might need to be constructed out of thin air.

If mountains no longer seem attractive, why do long trudges? Well, I believe I can ask my wife and others to join me for short stretches, so such walks need not be so lonely. Second, recent many-day hikes, such as the Coast to Coast, were both enjoyable and enriching. Finally, I reckon I can turn the notion of a pilgrimage into something that suits my hairshirt mentality better – maybe I can walk mornings and write novels in the afternoons. Wouldn’t that be interesting?