I’ve just spent the last six days cycling 500km for the annual Rapha Festive 500: that, for me, was about eighteen hours on a bike where I had a lot of spare thinking time. Last year, when the event was completed for the first time, no spare brain capacity existed, so hard was it that my whole was totally wiped for about a week afterwards. The difference between 2020 and now is considerable, remaining testament to where I am in terms of progress that there has been writing done between those sessions. It’s also been a period when future plans have begun to coalesce.
It continues to bother me how much of progress we decide to mark against other people, and never in relation to ourselves. If you’ve not got the badge, the leaderboard placement or the acceptance of your peers, have you even done anything worthwhile at all? Exercise, with its undoubtedly obsessive business of recording statistical achievement, has taught me a lot about how people define their success over the last few years. Selling your progress is a business too, and it’s been really insightful when I’ve begun to critically assess my place in the writing world.
All of this navel-gazing is as a direct result of having pulled something together for a Poetry Contest. I’ve discovered of late that if the subject of the submission or money making affair is anything other than ‘write what you want’ I tend to struggle, because the neurodiverse in my brain will undoubtedly fixate on a very, VERY specific part of the larger whole. Therefore, undoubtedly I’m setting myself up for failure, and becoming poorer for it as a result… except that’s not the entire story. Every contest entry is the literal equivalent of sticking a donation in the regional poetry charity donation box, and in the current climate, helping people across the country should be a priority for everyone.
I was on a writing course last year when the facilitator suggested that we all like the idea that just one poem could change our lives. It’s that whole ‘rags to riches’ mentality that does seem to fuel the majority of people’s aspirations: after all, were I to win the National Poetry Contest, it would mean that more people than the 600 or so currently following me on social media might have an interest in my fortunes long term. The problem with such manifestations however is the statistical likelihood that you’ll win anything to begin with. Except, as it transpires, my first publication was a contest win. No, really, go read it now.
As a result of this life-changing event in 2018 (and it totally was, make absolutely no mistake about it) I am about to hit Year Five of this particular endeavour. When I look back on the past half decade of attempting to get words to accurately represent what I am, The Beast in Cyberspace still shines bright as an example of me, doing what I do best. I’ve always been a mimic, and most of my life is inextricably linked with computing and the virtual world. As a calling card, it remains a perfect descriptor for my strengths and ability. I worked that out on a bike this week, and going forward there needs to be less worrying about what other people are producing, and more focus on personal strengths.
Needless to say, this is a Resolution I’m already working on ahead of time…