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  • Writer's pictureMike Gould

Find the rhythm in running and words

Let me say that I still hate jogging, unlike my wife who used to hate it and now loves it. This is not me taking a contrary position to make some corny point, but honesty. I enjoy the aftermath of running but find little peace in the action itself.

What my family would say is that I haven't done it enough, and perhaps that's right. Perhaps there is an epiphany, a moment when the running turns in upon itself and you become the act. What I do know is that rhythm is everything. On the few successful runs I have had, I have found a pace and momentum that fits my capabilities, the time of day, and the weather. It is elusive - like trying to tune a radio and not always finding the wavelength, but when you do there's a certain ease and comfort to it. Unfortunately, in my case rhythm is a feckless mistress, as easily lost as she is difficult to find.

In writing, I suppose the years of tapping words onto a keyboard have created their own unthinking rhythm - and with it a voice. I notice I have always crossed over to the left side of the keyboard with my right index finger to type a lot of letters, but never the other way; the left index finger stays resolutely in its five or six or so square inches of keys. I don't imagine that this has a profound impact on what or how I write, but it is indicative of the way muscle memory becomes ingrained.

I find the rhythm of my voice most consistent here in this blog, but not in my other work. Perhaps it is the nature of what I write - always changing for different audiences in the educational material which pays the bills. I could hardly write the same way when composing a short nonfiction science book on the Aurora as when I write an A level textbook on Global Perspectives, notwithstanding the fact that the Aurora Borealis and Australis are the ultimate global perspectives.

But even in my poetry - where you might expect there to be an emergent tongue of my own after all these years, my voice often differs. Perhaps it's a type of unselfishness (that's the generous view) or lack of confidence as I am still imitating the writers I love, searching for the particular strain, the radio frequency for my own private pirate radio station, unique to me and my listeners. Or perhaps it is the opposite, the ultimate in vanity - believing I can outdo Hughes or Wordsworth by emulating their styles: is that all you've got Ted? Hah! I can do Wordsworth, Duffy and even Zephaniah - no one trick pony me!

There is something about a blog however, that allows you to bring all your tricks to the table; all the influences, poetic, educational, dramatic, and so on. Perhaps because when you tell stories about yourself in this way, there is no other way to do it than to find the right rhythm. Writing the blog is a lot less painful than the jogging. No, it is more akin to the steadiness of swimming, the black type lapping in lines across the page, like a swimmer remorselessly ploughing up and down the lanes, or swimming between the groynes on a shingle coast.

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