It’s 2018. Time to put the past where it belongs, and look to the shiny, jetpack-infused future.
I’ve got some specific goals for the upcoming year, so here are five people from whom I’ll be drawing inspiration as I chug away, nibbling at the edges of aspirations they’ve already savaged, chewed, swallowed, and conquered.
Five for Friday: Inspirations for 2018
2018 is a big year for fitness, and part of my training routine has been inspired by watching a set of documentaries about the Crossfit Games. Based around a collection of exercises and routines that stretch an athlete’s physical capabilities across several vectors, it instantly appealed to the long-dormant athlete of my earlier life. (I posted earlier in the week about my plans to complete a Murph, one of the more well-known of these routines).
One of the stars of the documentaries was Icelandic athlete Katrin Davidsdottir. Only the 3rd athlete– and 2nd woman– to win consecutive Games, Davidsdottir is, not to put too fine a point on it, an absolute beast. Immensely strong, powerful, unrelenting, frighteningly quick, and with a physique that looks like it was carved out of marble by Michelangelo on the best day of his life, she is an athlete without equal.
But it was watching the way in which she competed that was just as inspiring. Davidsdottir gave the impression of also being a very sweet, humble, feminine woman. And while I don’t believe that women need to retain frills and subservience at all times, I do believe that people should be true to their personalities: the fact that Davidsdottir can compete (with phenomenal success) in a discipline that rewards a particular form of mental brutality and still retain a personality that plays against expectation is something I’ll try to remember: after all, we don’t want me to lose my essential sweetness and light, right?
As a signpost for discipline, dedication, sheer physical prowess, and mental and physical balance, I’ll be looking towards this astonishing athlete in 2018.
Katrin Davidsdottir. Image smurched from The Barbell Spin
Aubrey Beardsley upset everyone, and then he died aged 25. In the process, he revolutionised the English approach to art. At a time when the prevailing art scene dripped Japanese influences, overwhelming colour palettes, and an aesthetic that deified elitism and the singular artistic experience, as personified by Whistler’s Peacock Room, Beardsley was a monster lurking just outside the circle of light.
He worked in black and white. He inverted the European romanticising of the Japanese aesthetic to create a gallery of grotesques that horrified the dandy sensibilities of his contemporaries. He didn’t give a shit about the dandy sensibilities of his contemporaries, or his contemporaries. He worked with the aim of mass reproduction. He was, and remains, a unique creature when placed against any marker of his time.
He did what he wanted. He trusted his instincts. He ignored the careers, infatuations, styles, and fashions of his contemporaries. And he produced art that I think is utterly beautiful. These are signposts for my year ahead, and Beardsley is the example I’ll follow.
Illustration from ‘Salome’, Aubrey Beardsley
It’s a big call, and I’m making it: there is no purer voice in 20th Century English-language writing than GK Chesterton. He is an utter delight to read. The words sparkle on the page, leap about with wit and delight and impish glee, inviting you to gambol alongside them…… right up until the point they lure you into the dark spaces between the trees and turn upon you with bared fangs.
Chesterton’s craft is beyond compare: his plots are stronger than steel, his narratives are tenser than spider wire. In all my works, I aspire to his facility, and his effect.
If there is to be a muse in 2018, Chesterton is the man I wish to be when I grow up. He will be my yardstick.
G. K. Chesterton by Misterarendt
There’s a joke measurement in Australian SF circles. It’s the ‘Sean’. As in, “I had a good writing year, this year. I wrote 1/10th of a Sean.”
The man it refers to is Sean Williams. Sean is amongst the best known, and most widely read, Australian speculative fiction writers ever. He’s also just about the most prolific. Over the last 20 years, he’s written, written, written, and never stopped writing, producing a prodigious body of work from YA to Star Wars novels to children’s books to high-falutin’ epic space opera. No matter what else is going on in his world, he just seems to keep on writing.
How do you calculate a Sean? You take how many words you wrote this year, and you divide it by how many he published.
2018 is a time of dedicated writing. I’ll be keeping Sean’s example uppermost in my mind.
Sean Williams, photo by James Braund
46-0. 2-weight world champion. Unified the super-middleweight division. The longest reigning super-middleweight world champion in boxing history. One of the longest continual reigns of any boxer, ever.
They said he couldn’t beat Chris Eubank. He did. They said he couldn’t beat Mikkel Kessler. He did. Jeff Lacy was the great American hope, with a mouth to match. They said Calzaghe couldn’t get close to him. Calzaghe destroyed him, in one of the greatest boxing humiliations you will ever see. He moved up to light heavyweight, to face the immortal Roy Jones Jr. Guess what they all said? Guess what happened?
Whenever I need to pump myself up, and get inspired to roar off my seat and do something roarish, I watch boxing. Lennox versus Tyson; Lennox versus Grant, or Botha, or Rahman. Haye versus Maccarinelli. Froch vs Bute. But Calzaghe: I’ll watch Calzaghe vs anybody. I’ll watch Calzaghe vs Lacy all day long.
Determination, steel-flint eyes, intensity, intensity, and intensity. When I need to hit the afterburners, and keep hitting them, it’s Joe Calzaghe I’ll be turning to.
Calzaghe destroys Jeff Lacy. Photo by Andrew Couldridge
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