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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Deadlines . . .

I need deadlines, a target, a goal, a commitment . . .

It doesn't mean I will make them. One of my favorite quotes from my of my favorite writers:

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Mine don't whoosh so much, because I get to set them myself. To some degree. (I don't freelance because I would starve but I pitch stories to my employers, and then am expected to write them.)

When there is a space to fill that I might have a story for, I get reminded that a story is expected to fill a particular space.

Then, and unfortunately, only then, I draw in all the threads of the tale that have been roaming free in my mind, try to identify the strongest and track down it's supporting friends. I love it, I love writing, I love finding what it is about each story that might ("might") grab the reader's interest and hold them, but I'm really bad at doing it without a deadline.

So, tonight, I took a "rest" day from my gym, baked brownies, made curry and texted my subject with questions that the deadline made seem more important. I already have all the background - now it's about making it sexy (newspaper sexy, that isn't actually sexy).

I have a deadline.

I have to deliver.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A wise investment . . .

I joined a nearby gym shortly after I moved to Beijing but found, for many reasons, I wasn't using it as much as I would have liked. It wasn't simply laziness or procrastination, but the gym had inconvenient hours (it didn't open til 0900 and my work day started at 1000, and it was always too busy in the evenings), was more set up for body builders with half the cardio machines out of order on any day, and had such primitive change and shower facilities I never used them but rode home to shower and change.

With my membership about to expire and the gym under new management, I was promised things would change and offered a great deal to renew. By then, however, I'd talked with friends and colleagues who went to a health club in a hotel a little further away and a lot more expensive, and decided to check it out. A friend who was also a member of my gym but never went came with me and we decided to join together (and got the couple discount).

Being in an upmarket hotel, I'm now paying per month what I was paying for three months at my old gym, but the luxury of the surroundings and the vastly superior facilities make it well worth the cost. I have gone from struggling to manage three 30-minute workouts a week to working out at least six days a week, usually spending two to three hours enjoying the gym, pool and wonderful sauna. On working days, I go straight from work and am joined by my friend when he finishes 90 minutes later, which means I do at least that long on the treadmill and/or elliptical each night. Add a swim and sauna to that and I'm sleeping much better than before. Days I'm not working, or Sundays when I start late, it's easy to spend hours there listening to music on the headphones provided (the machines all have iPod docks so I just plug in my phone and dial up a station) then luxuriating in the sauna (there's a steam room also, but the dry heat of the sauna is great for my asthma also).

The change rooms and facilities are top of the range also, as you would expect.

I've barely lost any weight yet, but am measurably fitter and stronger (lifting heavier weights, running faster and longer at a lower heart rate and recovering quicker each time). Best of all though, I'm vastly happier and more tolerant, as well as sleeping better. Even on days I really don't feel like going, I always feel better after I've been.

It's definitely money well spent!