This week started off great, I was writing at a remarkable pace for myself, doubling up the suggested words per day average and generally enjoying the process. Not sure why, maybe I got cocky or too far ahead of myself, but I wound up slipping as the week progressed, not writing for two whole days and generally not putting out good content. I’m back on the horse today though, a good 3500 words this morning and hopefully a solid session this evening.
The structure of the book is slowly starting to take shape. I’m finding some interesting connections between my experiences on the Pacific Crest Trail and the events in my life that led to me choosing to hike it in the first place. I’m trying to interweave these events, jumping back and forth between them to strengthen these connections, and to discuss things in my life, the thoughts and memories that came up while hiking the trail, as they more directly relate to the experience of hiking itself.
Invariably with my writing I hit a natural wall, mostly based on my self-doubt, that I have to push through. With this book it’s come a little sooner than with my other attempts at writing, but I’ve been expecting it and I’m trying to ride the wave as best as I can. I tend to reach a point in my writing where I ask myself, “Is this even worth reading? Is this any good?” I suppose all writers and artists battle these doubts at some point, but I find them to be crippling to my creative process. All I can do is take a lesson from my times on the PCT, though, and keep going forward, confident that the process will provide the answers I need.
As before, I’d like to share an excerpt from the week’s writing, a little taste of the hard work I’ve been putting into this project since the beginning.
Halfway to Mt. Laguna, I turned a bend and saw a pair of older hikers lounging alongside the trail, under the protective shade of a manzanita. They were eating their lunch, peanut butter and tortillas, and seemed entirely at peace out here on the trail. He was a larger man, gray stubble growing in at his cheeks and chin, she a slight, mousy older woman with glasses and a broad smile. They introduced themselves as No Trace and Unbreakable.
There is a saying on the trail, one that I’ve found to be true on so many occasions, though I can’t understand why. The Trail Provides, it’s said. Any time your need is great, anytime you’re down or doubting yourself, anytime your hurting too much, or ready to give up, something comes along at exactly the right time, in exactly the right place, that just happens to be exactly what you needed to get through. It could be a can of lukewarm beer, when muscles are aching and every bone in your body is telling you to stop for the day, that loosens you up again and numbs you just enough to push on. It could be an apple, hidden in a cardboard box beneath a stack of empty water bottles, when you’re craving fresh fruit and need something other than trail bars and mixed nuts to keep yourself going. And it could be a person, met by chance, who is perfectly suited to talking you through the worst of your troubles, who opens your eyes and lets you see things from a different perspective. When I needed them most, the trail provided No Trace and Unbreakable.
It’s been an interesting couple of chapters right off the bat, to be sure. I’ve dipped into some really heavy stuff at the beginning to, hopefully, show why the trail was important to hike, and also to highlight the ways in which it changed me.
Anyway, back to writing. I’m going hiking this weekend so I’m trying to build as much of a word-count buffer as I can in case I don’t get anything written up in the mountains.