Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Death of the Great British Amateur.

Bridgnorth Corinthians circa 2010
If there is one thing I’m good at, it’s not being very good at things. Now some people might think that not being good at things is easy, not so. It takes dedication to be not very good at things.
There used to be a time, long before I can remember when, whilst you may not have been applauded for actually being bad, it didn’t really matter, it was the taking part that counted. Now I’m not going to argue that people shouldn’t try and be good at the things they do, of course they should. But if they try and fail, so what?
For example football (and for my American readers, I mean the associated variety). I have strong views about the dominance of football in British sport, but this isn’t the time or place. I will actively avoid watching the game, on telly or live, and have little respect for the overpaid, under-worked, feckless professionals who seemingly fail to see how lucky they are to be paid for kicking a ball around a field.

No, I won’t go on about the whining, reprobates, who fill our newspapers and gossip columns with the puerile antics of their wasted lives. This blog is about amateurs and given the chance to kick a ball around a sports hall with nine other chaps I’m as happy as the next man. I’m not very good at it mind, but then that is the point of this rant: it doesn’t matter.
With a vague sense that it is good for one’s health to get out of breath every now and again I co-formed the Bridgnorth Corinthians a few years ago. In four years we have failed to finish above any team that hasn’t dropped out. (This year, the fifth season, with me out from injury the Corinthians look to finish second from bottom.) I do actually hold an impressive shot-to-goal ratio of 100%, over four seasons I had a total of one shot. But then that doesn’t count own goals (6 to date).

I never worried, I enjoyed playing and that to me was the point. But then when filling in the match sheet after one game one of the other teams asked: ‘Why’d you bother, you’re never gonna win the league?’ What a sad state of affairs, I thought. Why would we drop out just because we loose? Is the only reason you play to win? Of course when you’re on the pitch you push yourself to do well, you put everything in. But if at the end of the day you finish having lost, is that so bad?
What do you actually achieve by winning a five-a-side league? A shiny cup, but does that mean so much to you? If the primary, nay the only, reason for taking part in an activity is to receive affirmation that you are better than everyone else, I think you have problems my friend. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to win the league, who knows maybe one day we will (though I doubt it), but it is much more important to me to do something I enjoy, as well as I can.

Sadly, I think I am in a minority. There used to be an ethos of amateurism in Britain, a realisation that it was the taking part that counts. You might not win a shiny medal, but you will learn new skills, meet different people and become a more rounded human being. If you only ever do things you’re good at already, how are you ever going to learn new skills?
100 years ago there were regular matches in all sports that pitted Gentlemen vs Players. IE, people who were good at the game vs people who liked it, professional vs amateur. Most people then would have participated in a sport, as well as watched it. Why has that changed?

So if you’re reading this (and I suspect you are) join a team, start an evening class, what ever get out there and do something    

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

New Years Resolutions

With the Rollicking Tales project having failed in 2012, 2013 is probably a good time to take stock of my writing and give some thought as to its development. It was at the end of 2011 that I really made a decision to give writing a go and the following year was a mixed bag. On the plus side I had two stories accepted for publication. On the other hand my major project ‘Walls of Tamorria’ spluttered and stalled its way through the twelve months, not having made the progress I would have expected or hoped and several ideas for stories dies for want of not actually being written.

With this in mind I’ve set my self the following goals for 2013.

1)      Update this blog more regularly, at least once a month. Preferably with witty and erudite posts, but lets be realistic.

2)      Write 12 stories. Never mind about if they are published or not, just get them written and submitted for peer review.

3)      Develop my settings. This goes hand in hand with goal no 2. I’ve got three settings starting to develop.
a)      Tamorria: a dieselpunk fantasy world.
b)     The world of the Albion club, the Victorian action/adventure/murder/mystery setting for the two short stories I have had accepted.
c)      A Steampunk world, the setting fro my current short story project.
Hopefully I can write two short stories for each of these. I also have a couple of plans for stories in pre-existing settings. That’s eight of my twelve short stories sorted, now all I’ve got to do is not have any more ideas until August.

4)      Write The Walls of Tamorria, in first draft at least. I reckon 12k words a month should see me through. This will be the hardest of the goals but if I can mange it I will start 2014 with a manuscript that needs polishing and some short stories all ready to my name, not a bad place to be in.

I’m confident I can manage 1-3. 4? Well, we’ll see. Check in in twelve months time and I’ll let you know.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

News Regarding Rollicking Tales

The dead line for submissions to Rollicking Tales is now closed.

Unfortunately I had some technical difficulties during the submission period which lead to my website, and the connected email going down. Partially as a result of this, I am sure, I have not received the number or quality of submissions I would have liked.

I do not feel it would be productive to have my name, or the names of any writers I did include, associated with a substandard publication. There or I have made the difficult desision to cancel the project.

I shall be leaving the publishing side of things for now and concentrating on my writing in 2013. Watch this space.