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Ian Williams aka Fetch

Fetcheveryone Member of the Month

Our way of acknowledging the contributions and achievements of the Fetch community. Thanks to our sponsor Fitbit, our October winner will receive a Fitbit Charge 3.

Click here to nominate someone

Interview with The Scribbler

pedroscalls asks: Congratulations on winning MoTM. My question is, if money and time were no object is there any route or race anywhere you'd love to do?

The Scribbler says: Thanks Pedro. I was chuffed to be nominated, and very surprised (and a bit embarrassed) to win.

There are loads of places I’d love to run, cycle and swim. I have a writing pal from Melbourne who is currently travelling around Australia in a VW camper van and enjoying some amazing trail runs, so I’d like to join her.
But if money and time were no object, I’d like to train for an ironman and qualify for Kona. This is as likely (and probably as expensive) as me ever achieving another big dream, which would be to see the Earth from space.
Ness asks: Congratulations on winning. I love reading the "100 running words blogs" inspired by you. Does running help inspire your writing and if so is there a particular place you like to go to as inspiration?

The Scribbler says: Thanks Ness. I love reading the 100 running word blogs too and love the fact that Fetchies jumped in and gave it a go.

Yes, running absolutely inspires my writing. Running actually gave me a way back into creative and personal writing after I’d lost my spark for it for quite a long time. There were so many experiences I wanted to remember and so many races I wanted to share once I started doing them. Finding Fetch and writing blogs and getting encouragement for my writing has been one of the most wonderful, unexpected side effects of taking up running.
There is something about being actually out in the landscape that really inspires me. The most inspirational places I’ve been are Japan, and Aracena in Spain, where I did an amazing writing course, but really I find inspiration anywhere. I can be inspired by the smallest detail - a flower peeping through the grass; or the biggest expanse of sky and mountain. Even the mundane can be inspiring, it depends on how you look at it.
The Mighty Fleecy asks: Congrats, Scribs! Thanks for organising 100 running words, I love the way everyone has their own take on it :) Do you write blogs in your head as you run? And if so, how do retain them until you can scribble them down?

The Scribbler says: Thanks Fleecy, I love that too and have enjoyed reading all the different responses to 100 running words, some sad, some funny - some rude!
I do sort of write in my head as I run. It’s part of that inner monologue that goes on in my brain practically all the time.

When I was racing and writing running blogs regularly, I used to make a conscious effort to try and remember things that happened along the way, but I don’t do that so much now. What I think in my head as I run is rarely exactly the same thing I write afterwards, it’s like a rough first draft. Sometimes I will catch a phrase that I like and repeat it to myself until it sticks, so that I can recall it later. I’ve forgotten more than I’ve remembered though.
SusiesueH asks: Congratulations Scribbler :D What tunes would be on your running Desert Island Discs playlist?

The Scribbler says: Thanks for nominating me SusiesueH, and for being such a good friend. The answer to your question is worthy of a blog post and may inspire one one day. Music is really important to me. Certain songs tap into emotions and memories and take me places in a similar way to reading books.
I actually have a few running playlists, and used to use them on my long training runs. They are full of cheesy 80s songs such as - Footloose, Don’t Stop Me Know, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go etc…
My all time musical heroes David Bowie and U2 would no doubt make an appearance on my Desert Island Running playlist. Bowie’s ‘Suffragette City’ and ‘Modern Love’ are good to run to (though I do tend to shout out the ‘Wham Bam, thank you ma’am!) and Vertigo by U2 has quite a good running beat. I once ran my fastest ever mile while listening to Eminem Lose Yourself, so that might feature too.
Diogenes asks: Congratulations, it's good to see you winning for such a great initiative, and inspiring so many people to get writing. Do you think you could write a whole book about running? Also, if there was one book you wish you had written, what is it?

The Scribbler says: Thank you Dio. That is a great question. Yes, I could write a whole book about running. In terms of number of words, I probably have written enough here over the years haven’t I? I’ve read a few books, notably those based on blogs such as Lazy Girl Running’s book, where I’ve thought ‘I wish someone had asked me to write that’.
The book I wish I’d written? For life-changing success, Harry Potter. For being as close to the perfect novel as I think you can get...The Great Gatsby, or Never Let Me Go. The book I wanted to write when I knew I wanted to write was Wuthering Heights. But much as I wanted to be, I'm not that kind of writer. And now I look on it as a deeply disturbing novel. So, I’m going to say the book I wish I’d written is the one one that’s inside me. I have had many ideas for stories over time and have at least two novel ideas that have stuck with me for a few years now. I want to write those because I want to know what happens. I still hope I will write them, or something long form one day. My fear is that I’m hooked on short form writing (see 100 words) and lack the discipline to stick with something and finish it. And that I’m not good enough.
HappyG(rrr) asks: Woohoo! Another worthy winner! (ooh, I used alliteration! ;-) ) Never mind the clever writing and the far east fundraising exploits, you're a lovely, supportive Fetchie friend. Anyhoo, a question... Please could you write 100 words about Newcastle Town Moor Oct 2011 please?! (I'm expecting a very long, and readable, MotM set of answers in a few weeks time!!) Well done again. :-) G

The Scribbler says: A marathon on the Town Moor. What madness is this?

A bandstand bedecked in red and yellow. Populated by a cheering team full of encouragement, cakes and jelly babies.

Among the support crew: HaHa, Rob154, PenW, MeLAR, SusieSueH and LorraineS. A stickerbook full of smiles.

And the runners? A fine phalanx of Scottish talent, with the Happy crew of Grr and Times joined by The Rentboy. Lisrun smiled all the way through. I didn't hear Anna Bomb swearing at all.

I clapped and cheered. Added your photos to facebook. I wondered ‘How hard could it be to run so far?’
Lemon10 asks: Congrats on winning MOTM! I have loved the 100 word blog project you organized, thanks! I'd like to ask who is your favourite author and what is your favourite book?

The Scribbler says: Thanks Lemons! You have asked a question that’s practically impossible for me to answer as I don’t want to risk hurting the feelings of any writers or books I miss out. My favourite books depend on my mood, whether I want to laugh, to be challenged, to read a true story, or to curl up with something I’ve read time and time again.

As a child, I adored Where The Wild Things Are, and later the Narnia books. Alice in Wonderland has also had a habit of turning up in my life at regular odd moments.

As a very bookish teenager whose favourite school subject was English, I read a lot of the classics, and fell desperately in love with the Brontes, specifically Emily and Wuthering Heights. Later I picked up Dickens and Jane Austen. My oldest and most faithful friends are Pip from Great Expectations and Miss Jane and Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. But my favourite Austen is Persuasion.

My favourite books are ones I feel I’ve lived in. I still open wardrobe doors and check, and I have spent a lot of time wandering the streets of Ankh Morpork.

I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman - because he writes lots of different stuff, and because I got the chance to hear him read at Usher Hall and he absolutely transported me somewhere else entirely. It was, I imagine, as close as I’ll get to the experience of hearing Dickens read, unless I get a visit from a Doctor in a blue box.
Chrisull asks: Who (or what) influences your writing? Are your inspirations deliberate or accidental? (i.e. do you choose them, or do they choose you :-) )

The Scribbler says: Everything and both. I read lots, though not as much as I’d like to, and what or who I’m reading definitely influences my writing, and gives me ideas and inspiration.

How much or how little I write can alter according to my mood. I was writing a lot of creative stuff regularly before my Nanna died in 2008. I wrote a piece I read out at her funeral and then didn’t write anything else for pleasure for almost a year. It was Fetch that got me back into writing for myself, through running blogs. And through reading such wonderful writing on here - yours very much continues to make an impression on me.

I do think that if I didn’t write for a living, I would write more fiction and creative stuff. But then working as a journalist and a copywriter has given me craft and skills that help me write better.

Inspiration is both accidental (stumbled upon, observed, wakes me up in the early hours of the morning kind of inspiration) and deliberate. I like working on creative projects that have a starting off point and deliberate inspiration. And I enjoy working to a structure or constraint, because it makes me use my brain differently. Hence 100 Running words.
monsenb1 asks: Congratulations Scribbler! What are your three favourite NE running races, and why?

The Scribbler says: Thanks monsenb1 - it's been a while since we saw you running in the North East. Hope things are good for you where you are now. My favourite North East race is no secret - it's the Blaydon Race because I love the way that we runners take over the town centre and to me it marks the start of summer. It’s not a pretty run, but it’s got history, and running it makes me feel part of the north east. Plus I always run well there.
My favourite pretty race is the Northumberland Coastal Run. I’ve only done it once, when I was training for a half marathon and it is a gorgeous run along beaches and through little coastal villages. It’s tough going and entries sell out fast, but I would definitely like to do this one again one day.

My third favourite is my most local race, the North Tyneside 10K. It's the first race I ever did and I run a good chunk of the route on a regular basis, but I never get bored of it. I love running along beside the sea through Tynemouth, Cullercoats and Whitley Bay, heading for St Mary's Lighthouse. This race also marks the start of the season for me and many other runners, so it has an excited buzz about it.
swittle asks: How did you evolve into such a free spirit - in terms of profession and sport preferences? btw 100 words was an inspired concept!

The Scribbler says: What a lovely question Swit - my coastal running cousin. Am I a free spirit? I don’t know. I sometimes think I’m quite constrained and proper due to the way I was brought up. I think running chose me, as I am a natural introvert. I enjoy my own company and being alone in my own head. Running is another space for that. It’s individual, and can be selfish at times. So there’s a sweet irony in the fact that running has introduced me to real friends in real life, people who I care about that I’d never have met if I hadn’t stumbled across this website, or gone to parkrun. I am enjoying the freedom of working for myself as a freelancer, and I think I have the discipline to make it work. I just need to have patience and faith that I can build up enough work to support myself financially long term. I've made a good start, but still need a dose of luck, resilience and determination.
Bintmcskint asks: Congratulations, Scribbler :-)
I feel like I should ask a question about writing and running but I'm sure you'll get loads of those so I will stick with my usual question...you are stranded on a desert island. You can take one type of food, one book and one Fetchie. What and who do you take and why?


The Scribbler says: Great question Bint! Food - as I hope I would be able to catch some fish, and envisage mango, pineapple and bananas on this desert island, I shouldn't do too badly for food. I'd probably crave something like rice or potatoes. One book - Something with lots of characters and plots that I could re-imagine and play around with, so let's go for Charles Dickens - Our Mutual Friend (fortunately I have lots of books in my head too). One Fetchie - I’m tempted to say someone who would be good and practical and know about making shelter and finding food. But my heart says Ellem, my lovely Fetch buddy, who I met through this site, because I know we would get along really well together. And if the island had bikes we could go exploring on, we would be very happy. Though I would hate for her to be separated from her family and dogs.
richmac asks: Big congrats well deserved MOTM :-) The 100 words was great, brought out my creative side, again. Any Fetchies qwho have inspired characters in you writings? ;-)

The Scribbler says: Thanks rich, I’m glad to have inspired some creative Fetchies to do something out of the ordinary. I don’t tend to write much character based stuff, but when I do, they are usually a magpies nest of bits and bobs from all over the place. So one of my characters looks like 1970s David Bowie, but holds himself like a squaddie I met when I was a journalist and has a physical attribute that you’d recognise. When I placed him somewhere I’d visited for real, but that he didn’t belong, a story emerged. The other character in that story sprang into my head as I was writing it. So no doubt there are aspects of some Fetchies in my characters too - even if I’m not conscious that they are present.
sallykate asks: Congratulations! You've dipped your toe in the dark side...if you could only do one of the disciplines would it be splash, wobble or plod?

The Scribbler says: Thanks Sallykate. It would have to be plod. Running is where it all started for me in 2008. It’s the simplest discipline and where I feel most at home. I do go a bit mental if I haven’t been immersed in water for a bit though and I enjoy the freedom of getting about on a bike (although it's probably my least favourite discipline to train for). I'm really enjoying my running at the moment. It's slow, but there's no pressure, and it feels nice just to get some miles in.
McGoohan asks: Well done on the win! Have you got any more ideas for initiatives like the 100 Word Challenge? And will you let us in on what they are? ;-)

The Scribbler says: Thank you McGoo. I’m enjoying seeing what the 100 word challenge has brought out in Fetchies. There’s some real writing talent on this site. I do have another writing project idea that I’ll be launching outside of Fetch next year, with 26 characters. It’s currently in a state of creative fluffiness, so I’ll let you know about that when it’s a bit more firmed up. It feels like the 100 Running Words challenge has run its course now, so would you like to do another Fetchie writing project? I can certainly think of a few more ideas.
Autumnleaves asks: Congratulations - 100 words is an inspired project! What first made you lace up your running shoes?

The Scribbler says: Thanks Autumnleaves - 100 words has inspired me too. I first laced up my running shoes as an adult in 2008, as part of a drive to get fitter and feel better in my own skin. I’ve told this story before, but I started training with a PT, and he wanted to get me doing some cardio regularly, so I tried running. I hated it at first, but he’d challenged me to be able to run non stop for 20 minutes and I was determined to reach that goal. Then I thought I’d stop. But I didn’t. I got to like it and even went running on Boxing Day simply because I wanted to run. Then after New Year, I drove down the road where the Great North Run starts, and thought “I could do the Great North Run…” Which is when it started to get a bit serious, and I began to do races, and got a bit obsessed with training etc. But I loved it. And it’s lead me to all sorts of unexpected, amazing and wonderful experiences. So I won’t be giving it up.
Chrisity asks: What is your favourite word and why? Answer in 100 words please.

The Scribbler says: Chrisisty - that’s a practically impossible question for me to answer. Think of how all those other words will feel if I don’t choose them! I like a good bit of anglo-saxon, and words with old roots. I treasure foreign words that have no English equivalent: tsundoku is Japanese for a pile of books waiting to be read; duende is Spanish for the feeling that you have when you’re deeply moved by art; saudade is Portuguese for something deeply loved and lost. I love the concept and sound of serendipity, and it’s served me well, so I’ll choose that.
Angus Clydesdale asks: Congratulations! Very well deserved and arguably long overdue. :-)
What other letter scores 10 in Scrabble?


The Scribbler says: Thanks Angus. Z (I had to check the set. I’m pretty poor at Scrabble)
westmoors asks: Congratulations on MOTM. Love the 100 words project. My question: who would you most like to meet and why?

The Scribbler says: Great question westmoors. They say “Never meet your heroes”, but I would have loved to have met David Bowie. The problem with meeting people that you admire, is that you’re unlikely to get the chance to really spend time with them, and say or hear anything beyond the banal. I would love to meet David Attenborough because he is a brilliant broadcaster and I learned a lot about writing really concisely for television by watching his TV programmes. I reckon someone like Simon Reeve would be fantastic company on a journey and there are loads of writers who I would like to meet too. I’d like to meet some of my sporting heroes Jessica Ennis Hill, in particular, and Ellie Simmons. I have met Ali and Jonny Brownlee at their triathlon, but I would love to sit down to Sunday lunch with them. But really, I like to meet anyone who has something interesting to say and will take time to talk. When I was a journalist, some of the most memorable people I met were not the ones you would consider famous or important. I had a great time listening to an old lady tell of how she saw a German bomber plane come down in the sea off Whitburn, spent an amazing day with a man who painted plastic replica fish, and was treated like royalty by the crew of HMS Invincible.
154 Rob asks: Ree-sult! These LendWithCare cycle trips are very interesting - would you fancy living in another country? ...if so, where and why?

The Scribbler says: Thanks Rob. When I was growing up, I always thought I’d live somewhere other than England for a while. I love travelling. My recent trip reminded me just how much I get out of being immersed in another culture and landscape. Cambodia is so different from anything I’m used to in terms of climate, people and culture and I loved it. I loved my time in Japan too - so I think I like places that are a big contrast. I’m not sure about living somewhere else now though. I don’t feel the same pull to do it as I did when I was younger. If the opportunity came up, I would certainly consider it. Although, having returned from Cambodia in November, I have come to terms with the fact that I am actually better suited to a Northern climate. I sort of feel I might end up in Scotland eventually - which wouldn't be too bad.
Corrah asks: Congratulations on a well deserved MoTM. Going to ask my usual question. What's your favourite post race food and tipple?

The Scribbler says: Thanks Corrah. I’m pretty omnivorous, so I’m not really fussy about what I eat or drink after a race. I had a tradition of going for fish and chips after the Great North Run - and they always tasted especially good. I love a hot chocolate after a cold run, and an ice cream after a warm one, but I’m most likely to drink water (boring I know). My favourite post race food came after one of my first triathlons, when there was a stall with a charming French man serving chocolate and banana crepes. That was pretty special.
Night-owl asks: Congratulations, you've entered a new race. But the venue is in a scene of one of your favourite books you've read. Where would it be (and what distance)? Can be any era.

The Scribbler says: Congratulations Nightowl - this was the question that I spent the most time thinking about. I've already mentioned some of my favourite books and there are loads of locations in those that lend themselves to running. Elizabeth Bennett does a lot of walking in Pride and Prejudice; John Harmon walks miles around London's city streets in Dickens' our Mutual Friend, or I could go and romp the moors above Haworth as I have many times in my imagination, accompanied by Emily Bronte and Keeper (her dog). But I would most love to run in and around Ankh Morpork, from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. It would be an absolute riot - something like a big city run, with an added element of magic, unpredictability and possibly dragons. We would gather in Hide Park to warm up and get under starters orders, then charge away down Edgeway Road and onto Endless Street, skirting the city walls. Then a steep climb up the Stump and back down to keep circling the city, re-entering along Short Street, heading left towards Quarry Street and the Cattle Market. You'd risk your life entering the Shades, but fast enough runners could find their way through the narrow maze of streets to Treacle Mine Road. Cross the Anhk on Misbegot Bridge, or walk across if it's a particularly oozy day and take Speedwell Street as far as King's Way. Head towards the Opera House on the Isle of Gods, then down Lower Broadway, over the Brass Bridge. Take the Turnwise Broadway around the Patrician's Palace to finish in the Plaza of Broken Moons beneath the Unseen University. Post race refreshments and banana daiquiries in the Drum. How far is that? I have no idea, but it would be great fun. I propose we all turn up and give it a go on 28 April.
Valyrian Plastic asks: What is your prefered means of writing: computer, typewriter, or quill and ink?

The Scribbler says: Not quite quill and ink VP, but I do prefer pen, or pencil and paper. I like a nice ink rollerball and good paper - like a moleskin notebook. I can, and do often type straight onto a keyboard or screen, but feel more connected through handwriting. I even write for business starting with handwritten notes. Things change a lot between what I write on paper and what makes it to the screen, but even I don’t know how that happens. I just go with it. It’s fun - even when I end up writing something completely different from what I set out to write.
Ellem asks: Congratulations to you, the nicest Fetchie friend. Who is your all-time favourite writer (dead or alive) and why? also on a personal note, when are you coming to visit?

The Scribbler says: Hugs to my best buddy. I can’t believe we never would have met without this site. That’s worth more subscription than I could ever afford. I’ve already touched on this in my answer to Lemon’s question about my favourite book. So, I’ll stay true to that and say that my favourite writers are Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. They have an advantage over modern writers because I found them when I was most open to reading and they’ve stuck with me for a long time. These writers have given me hours of enjoyment, books I’ve read more times than I can remember and characters who I’ve had a relationship with for longer than almost anyone else in my life. I've just been for a lovely visit before Christmas, but will come and see you as often as I can. I love spending time with you and we do have some fun don't we!
Roobarb asks: Congratulations! Victoria sponge or chocolate cake?

The Scribbler says: Chocolate cake please - thank you! I won’t turn away a nice Victoria sponge, but chocolate’s my favourite.

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