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20180427_070842Today is my birthday, I am forty-eight years old.  Here is an ‘old person’s selfie;’ no proper attention paid to angle or pose, no filters, no editing, no makeup and no shame (or at least, not enough to stop me).

I like to have some quiet reflective time on my birthday.  This morning I got up early, did some yoga and then went for a long walk on the beach and thought about writing.  Or I thought about life and picked out the bits I wanted to write about.

What’s on top

I went for a long walk on the beach yesterday morning as well, and I have done some yoga every morning for the past few days.  Yesterday (and so far today) I have had no alcohol and no cigarettes.  I had fallen into bad holidaymaker habits this past week, which I cannot do for the whole year.

I knew my last post was exactly a week ago and I had already decided to do one today.  Then I thought that maybe I should do what I have so far resisted, due either to free spiritedness or pig headedness (as with many of my habits and decisions, it could be either), and sign up to the ‘consistency is key’ advice and post on a regular day every week.

I honestly did not know what day of the week it was today, not in the I don’t know what day it is, think for a second, then you do, type of way.  I mean I really didn’t know what day it was.  I had to remember the last time I knew what day it was, what day we left Hampi, what day my step-son arrived here in Arambol, and work it out from there.  I cannot remember the last time I had so completely lost track of what day it was.  It is Friday today so I shall, for the time being at least, post every Friday.  I may work on it earlier in the week and just finish it off on a Friday or I may write the whole thing on the day, depending on travel, time and internet access.

This will help me manage the demands of writing a book and writing a blog.  Having a once a week schedule is manageable and means I don’t have to fret about when was the last one, should I be doing another one, etc etc.  I remember reading somewhere that the more you can turn over to habit, rather than your own fluctuating motivations, interests and energies, the easier it is to get things done.

I feel like the blog will turn into more of an actual blog, rather than having to carry the full weight of any and all writing I do.  This has meant that not everything has been included as blogs are by nature a bit snappier, like short short stories.  Writing the book means that I can write about things that would otherwise be forgotten, and means that the blog can become slightly more chatty and personal.

If ever I think that maybe young people and their selfies are a bit narcissistic, I can just remember that writing about oneself and putting it on the internet potentially puts me in a glass house.  The blog is where I ask myself how I am and check in with myself.

It will also include a travel update and a writing update.  I will put the writing update at the end so it’s easy to skip.  It will be mainly of interest to other writers who are working on something and to people who are cheerleading me through the process of writing the book (thank you very much for your encouragement, it really does help!).

This will help me have a routine; I’d like to exercise in the morning, write in the afternoons and relax in the evening.  I do find no routine, drinking and smoking anytime, sort of fun but it’s easy to cop-out of getting anything done.  And how lucky am I, or rather, what a gift I have given to myself, to have a whole year where I can create a routine like that?  Or, to be on the more negative side, I chucked away my career and my three bedroom house so all that better have been worth it.  (Don’t worry, it totally is!)

Of course, alcohol, smoking, and general lack of confidence and self discipline can follow you almost everywhere.  I have not come here to run away from myself but I am fully aware that whatever it was about me that got in the way of me taking my writing seriously in England, can still get in the way here.

I can just about say this first month with my step-son out with us, is a holiday but not after that.  That said, I am sure there will be phases of falling off the wagon but I prefer to be clean living and with a routine and then fall off bigger occasionally, rather than a little every day.

Travel update:

We have been in Arambol for a week.  Beautiful beach like Agonda but a bit busier, with stalls and shops and alleyways to explore, and much nicer than Anjuna.  Tomorrow we go to Panaji the capital of Goa, for two nights before my step-son flies back to England and we leave Goa to go to Kerala for the monsoon.

Writing update:

It is going well.  I am working on Chapter Two, which is broadly our first month in India.  As usual I get anxious if I don’t write and yet still don’t write for several days at a time sometimes, but yesterday I spent quite a while on it and felt really good.

As long as I don’t get scared or overwhelmed by the length.  I think it’s helped that I have separated it into chapters, in different documents.  Chapter One, how we got here and some background.  My last book, whilst small, was all in one document and became an amorphous mass that would completely overwhelm me.  I remind myself, I wrote a dissertation, I wrote a few small books, I can do this.  Even if I hadn’t, I could just say it’s like lots of blogs strung together.  I have actually put all the India blogs into the chapter and am working around and into them, adding detail, expanding, linking.

A string of blogs is a good starting point but the writing style is different.  I realise that I can slow down, drill down into things, take my time, allow themes to develop.  I have begun by putting all my blogs and notes into chronological order whilst being flexible about some things being ordered by subject instead.  Things link to each other, for example:

Yesterday I thought there should be a food bit, about the different food we ate at different places (hopefully more interesting than it sounds).  Today on my walk I thought, I could do an animal section and then I came to ‘Dog Temple,’ there a sign with a dog’s face in a star, saying, ‘We welcome you,’ (It was an animal shelter).

Things call back to each other.  The people we met in Anjuna told me afterwards that they said to each other, ‘Shall we ask them if they want something to smoke,’ and the other said, ‘No they are too old,’ which made me laugh a lot.  Today, as I walked on the beach, a man stopped me and chatted to me, then at the end of the conversation asked me if I wanted to buy anything to smoke.  I politely declined saying I am being healthy right now but I was quite pleased anyway!  Especially as it was my birthday!

Thank you so much for reading, see you next week!