My To-Do List for 2020

Last week I got philosophical/grumpy about what it’s like being mere mortal during the Olympics, and in the spirit of WINNING THAT GOLD MEDAL, here is a list of ambitions I would like to have fulfilled by the next summer Olympics. There are other, more personal, things as well – but these are the things I want to brag (and complain) about publicly between now and summer 2020.

Finish a screenplay

And then have it optioned in record time by the BBC and win five BAFTAs. Obviously.

It doesn’t have to get anywhere (statistically, it would not get anywhere). I just want to finish one before I qualify for OAP cinema tickets.

Publish a book

I’d love to know the odds of getting a book published next to the odds of having a screenplay made, but since I would be responsible for almost all the content of a book, as opposed to one of many, many people making a film, I prefer my chances of  actually holding a novel in my hand. Plus, I’ve had more practise. Still gotta double check how to spell practise, though.

Earn enough at 1-3 jobs that I don’t need 4-5 jobs

Half of all authors in the UK earn less than £10.5k a year, and although I will never be bothered about making a million pounds a week, I would like to have found something by 2020 that affords me the time and financial security to make things. In the mean time, my Patreon is here, hint hint.

Travel to every country in the EU before my lazy arse has to fill out paperwork to do so

Britain will have Brexited by Tokyo 2020, and there’s nothing like a deadline to spur one on to visit Slovakia while it takes minimum effort. Where is Slovakia.

Travel to basically everywhere

I could probably stand to miss Baghdad, Aleppo and the North and South Poles, but places I haven’t been to yet that I want to write postcards from include but are not limited to:

  • The Colosseum in Rome
  • South East Asia
  • The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland
  • San Francisco
  • The Edinburgh Fringe Festival
  • South America
Travel GIF
I normally can’t stand these GIFs, but in the spirit of optimism… from Twitter.

Learn (or rediscover) a sport that doesn’t bring back horrible memories of PE

They never taught us aerial yoga, maybe I could try that… or trampolining. Ooh, or dog walking.

Pass my driving test

Possibly this is cheating because if I pass my theory test on Friday I will technically be half way there. Then again, I started learning in 2014, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I strive for Maggie Stiefvater-esque skill and style, but I think I’m going to be more like this:

I have some deadlines to attend to (and theory to study for) so I will leave this here and maybe revisit it on a periodic basis to brag/complain/mentally compare notes with the athletes aiming for Tokyo. Do you have any goals or four year plans? Let’s compare ourselves to Olympians together!

 

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Is It Just Me or Do the Olympics Prompt a Breakdown

I’ve been having really odd reactions to the Olympics so please help me out and tell me if you’ve experienced anything similar (no, I’m not talking about checking out the Team GB diving team, although I do encourage you to do that). When I’m watching TV, usually with a plate of food or a cup of tea, I either think:

This is so incredibly inspiring. Look at that perfectly regular human being who has worked their bones into dust for four-plus years to become one of the best sportspeople in the world. They are so deserving of our attention even if they don’t win anything because they are a testament to the human spirit and work ethic. I think I will put down my food and do my physio and go for a run tomorrow.

Or:

That person is my age. That person is five years younger than me. What was I doing five years ago? I was blogging about MCR, which has clearly propelled me into a fascinating, rewarding and financially secure life. That person has more visible muscles on their stomach than I do in all my limbs. I’ve been curled on Instagram checking out Team GB’s diving team for approximately four hours and haven’t done physio for days. But I’m actually just going to eat some carbohydrates and compare myself to a world class gymnast, and feel bitter that my PE teachers were nearly all so shit that I’ll never know if I could have been able to do a somersault.

BELOW AVERAGE from The Perks of Being a Wallflower from taylorbtw.tumblr.com
from taylorbtw.tumblr.com

Sometimes I veer from one reaction to another in the time it takes an athlete to fall off a pommel horse. Sometimes I eat carbs then do physio then eat more carbs. Is anyone else experiencing this? Is there a cure?

One thing I do like about the Olympics is the idea of working in four year cycles towards a goal. Athletes aiming for the Olympics have a clear deadline and an ambition that will get them out of bed when they would rather be anywhere but where they are, and I could do with that – or anything that would help me focus on something that isn’t my growing resentment toward everything I’ve ever done to ensure I’m a money-strapped freelancer with a broken desk chair and a complicated CV.

This isn’t me drowning in self pity; four years ago I had just finished my GCSEs and was in the middle of learning that supermarket bread wanted to kill me, and now I’m a healthier-ish indie writer who was self employed at 18 with zero debts and a burgeoning business. Not many 20 year olds can say that they decided what they wanted to and immediately did it. My life is not terrible.

But I want it to be better.

I think I might work on those four year goals.

The Lazy Person’s Guide to the Olympics

I have lived through several Olympic cycles, and I can actively remember the last three (Athens: I was in Greece at the time and the Greeks were so into it. I was eight and hated sport. Beijing: I was in Greece at the time and the Greeks were less into it. I was 12 and hated sport. London: I was in Greece when it started and couldn’t believe nothing broke at the Opening Ceremony. I was 16 and hated sport).

Now I am 20 and have gone for three runs in the last month. Three! I still hate sport, but have learnt that the Olympics are relevant to my other interests, so I thought I’d put together a little guide for everyone who has bad memories of PE but wants to get their money’s worth from the TV license.

Activity 1: Sit on the sofa, yelling at the TV

Usually I do this during the news. Now I can do it during the 500000m semi sprint or whatever it is Mo Farrah will win. Check out the schedule for a sport you think you can really get into while eating popcorn/shouting.

Homer Olympics from Twitter
from Twitter

Activity 2: Check out attractive people

I’ve done a quick recon (read: Googled volleyball) and here are just some of the sports with maximum exposure to god-like muscles. NB: some of the competitors are minors. Check who’s still in school before you do anything weird.

  1. Diving
  2. Volleyball
  3. Running
  4. Swimming
  5. That one with the people who run and swim simultaneously triathlon
  6. Gymnastics
  7. Boxing
  8. (Added after a couple of days of observation) Rowing
  9. (ditto) Rugby

The Olympics is basically a free way to explore your sexuality, yes?

Mr Bean from Twitter
from Twitter

Activity 3: Explore multiculturalism

Does anyone know exactly where Samoa is? Or St Kitt’s and Nevis? Or Kazakhstan? Me neither, but I’m going to find out – and I’m going to cheer on the refugee team and holler at random people I’ve never heard of from countries with zero funding when they come last, and curse at the Internet when Boris Johnson someone makes an inappropriate comment.

Activity 4: Pretend you know about sport

‘Yeah so the American women’s football team is really spectacular… did you know there’s a record number of out LGBT athletes competing at this Olympics? Hey, I read that one of the girls in the GB shooting team uses pink cartridges…’

I did zero research to write that. Unless you count scrolling through the news when I don’t want to work as research, anyway. I also did zero exercise.

Bring it, Rio.

Rio 216 from Twitter
Also from Twitter I JUST LEARNT THERE’S A WHOLE GIF BANK THERE

Run, Run, Bunny, Run

Morning.

On Monday I bought some trainers. I wasn’t in the market for trainers. Well, I’ve had my old ones for about eight years and they no longer fulfil their function as shoes, so I was keeping my eyes open – and these were sat in the bargain basket in Aldi, cheap but not shitty (a venn diagram game I don’t usually win at). So there went some of my emergency cash.

The trainers are specifically running trainers.

So I’m going to learn to run.

Or at least walk quickly. I won’t be partaking in any marathons, thank you very much. But I have so far done one run around the block and although my body thinks it’s 11pm, not 11am,  I am feeling VERY SMUG. Partly because I’ve raised my heart rate without entering a gym, partly because I really do feel better for it, partly because I did something I said I would do. I don’t think I’m going to start watching the Diamond League or buying fancy socks, I don’t think I’ll go every day or even every other day… I do think I’ll probably put a knee out by accident, because I haven’t physically run since I got a text that The Raven King was in Waterstones half an hour before the shops closed, and the last time I ran before that was probably year nine PE. Which wasn’t really exercise in so far as the only muscles I used were my eyebrows, every time the teachers claimed we should be enjoying ourselves.

Shocked Dog from corgianddachshund.tumblr.com
This is how I looked when I stepped out the door and realised I’d committed to exercising in broad daylight. from corgianddachshund.tumblr.com.

You’ll know if I keep it up, because I’ll add ‘funds to buy muscle cream’ to my Patreon. Right, I need another coffee.

Such a Beautiful Game…

I’ve been working on Ghost Stories II and on copywriting a lot lately so my indifferent ignorance radar has been turned to low. Or maybe the thought of analysing Mohammed Emwazi is too depressing to make a reality. Actually, the rest of the news is pretty grim as well, and I feel like it’s way too soon to make jokes about the sex abuse in Oxford or baby deaths in Cumbria.

It may never be a good time for joking about those things.

In fact, the most laughable piece of mainstream news at the moment is the Qatar football fiasco. When the bid was announced, I a) didn’t care and b) thought that they had already decided to host the competition in December. Apparently it’s taken until now for Fifa to make anything official, and people are grumbling about the fact it will upset league competitions.

Shouldn’t Fifa have thought about that before they accepted bribes from the Qataris? I mean, if I was going to take money for something, and if I knew other people were going to know it, I’d take pains to make sure I got a deal so sweet no one cared about the corruption. Or maybe the Fifa people decided they got paid enough not to give a shit about anything else.

Sometimes I am very glad that I’m not invested in team sports. What do you think the odds are that, by the time 2022 rolls around, Fifa will think the same thing?

Lesson of the Week: Commonwealth Games Diving GIFs Don’t Exist.

I’m kind of bummed out that no one’s really picked up on the irony of the WWI commemorations being immediately followed on news bulletins by info on the Gaza war… I’m also fed up with being bummed out so I’ve been watching Frank’s new video for intestine-filled kicks. Is it also ironic that Frank’s a vegetarian?

Anyway, I’ve been tapping away at commissions and etching out a legit portfolio site, which you can expect to see in roughly 3.7 million years or when I’ve got the cash to replace the standard colour palette with something I like. Business is a little slow at the moment – possibly because everyone’s on holiday, possibly because they’ve all been mesmerised by the Commonwealth Games and haven’t yet left their sofas.

[Insert imaginary GIF of a diver diving off the 10m board here. I thought it would look cool because their twisty dives are brilliant and hypnotic but there is not one fucking GIF of a single diver in action. So here is an entire YouTube video. Please go to 3 minutes 40 seconds to get whatever the fuck I was aiming to post about two hours ago before 20 tabs Googling Tom Daley drove me mad. The rest of the post was finished two hours ago. Two hours. I’m going to have nightmares about search engines.]

Anyway. I was thinking that it would be cool to do little flash fiction giveaways every week, to keep my mini story muscles flexed (my friend Jay has asked me to do 5k words on a prompt inspired by Cloud Atlas, a book I haven’t actually read. Expect it in one-to-two weeks!).

So if you fancy reading something shorter than a Vice article but longer than the phrases on coffee mugs, leave a comment with an idea or phrase and I’ll rustle something up!

Ew, I feel like a chef.