The loneliness of the long distance walker/runner/writer

I haven’t slept properly for the past four nights and, since I can’t pin the blame on caffeine, stress or much else, I’ve decided that part of the problem might be lack of decent exercise.

The Thursday after the Great North Run, I took myself off up to Scotland for four days alone. I stayed at an incredibly romantic and quite fancy shepherd’s hut (and completely recommend the place). No electricity, so when night started to fall, that was bedtime. After the first day, if I wanted a fire I needed to chop wood; if I wanted water, I had to fetch it from the next field over and slightly up a hill. Point being that even making a cup of tea involved some measure of effort. And I decided, in between reading a lot and writing a bit, to go walking. I bought a map of the area with trails marked on it, and went for a short explore on Thursday evening, and for longer walks on my own (six miles and ten miles each on Friday and Saturday. Sunday was a lazy day involving cake and a dog-sitting for the lovely people I met there).

This is the place...

This is the place…

It was bliss – no one but me to worry about. When I went walking I could go fast or slow or take a break, and no conversation required. I wore myself out and slept well. And then I came home and real life started back up and dog walks are fine and active, but are not quite the same as wandering around the Cairngorms in solitude, and then work got busy, and now I’ve spent a lot of the week sat down.

BUT. All that’s changing. In a proper déjà vu/tbt 2011-12 thing, I suddenly find I’ve signed up for a sprint tri next year. When we moved house, I said to a friend, if not on here, that I thought my tri days were over. But then twitter-friend Rowena said she and other twitter-friend Emily (both part of the online support network from the days of the Half-Ironman-that-never-was) had signed up to the Leeds ITU triathlon next June, and asked was I going to? The idea gave me a happy jolt, so I did. No fear this time – there were only sprint distances left, for a start, and the cycling doesn’t hold the same terror for me that it used to. I’m flat out looking forward to the training for it, now that I’ve got country roads and cycle paths to use. I can do the run. I can do the swim. I will, I hope, even be able to drive to the event! I’ll get to meet two wonderful women in person! Whoop!

Pleased to say I am no longer this bad, which is a relief for everyone.

Pleased to say I am no longer this bad, which is a relief for everyone.

And then I came home from a loooong work thing last night to the shock of the London Marathon ‘Congratulations!’ magazine (we’ve been here before…). I had just finished telling someone that I hadn’t heard anything and was sort of relieved, and in my head I was never going to get a spot. Because the odds are small, for the ballot, right? And who gets a ballot place twice? … Me. I do. In the chance and luck area of life, the odds are genuinely ever in my favour at the moment, which is great. But this was like a double-handed slap of YES! and NOOOOO! Because YES! I love the marathon, it was great, I loved feeling that fit and healthy and I loved the long wintery runs with Dog #1 and round here that’s going to be even better! But NOOOO! I have to commit to six months of actual training for this one; there’s no happy ‘I’m fit enough’ like with the tri. This is going to take effort, and if anything I’ll be more committed this time round because I know how much it hurts.

So.

There’s that.

Other news – I’m two weeks into the Unthank School Novel Writing course. Last week I consciously made the decision that poetry and short prose is out for the next three months. Until I finish the first draft of the story that’s been rattling round in my head for years now, nothing else is happening. Which is tough to stick to because I finally, finally got a competition mention thing. Not a long-listing, but in the final 50 for the London Short Story Prize, which gave my confidence a boost. That confidence will just have to apply to a longer work, I guess!

Oh. Wait.

Nothing else is happening except the Literary Salmon launch, which should be very very very very soon. The stories are out for preview with various lovely writer and editor types. A couple of the responses are back, and I find myself reading them for clues. Is this person being too nice? Is this person avoiding saying that they hated the collection? Oh GOD. I don’t care if my story is hated, but I love the collection as whole, and our writers are so good and worked so hard, and I want it to be loved by other people that aren’t me. The cover is loved by everyone. The cover looks AMAZING. So does the PDF. Which you’ll be able to read very soon. (Please read it.)

But really - look at how awesome this is!

But really – look at how awesome this is!

So, yes, I write a bit of my novel draft on the train every morning, and then again later, if I can (except this morning, when I’m writing this) and all other creative endeavours are temporarily banned. Is what I swore. So of course the other night I wrote a song and did a really rough recording of it that needs fleshing out and at least one extra vocal line adding. But it’s just a start, and the poor thing was less than an hour in the making when I plugged in my hi-tec Samsung phone-chat earphones and used the mic on that to record into my computer. *Professional*. Still, have a listen if you want.

Also I started contacting people about singing lessons, since I clearly have the time for that. Clearly.

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