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Hiking My Trail

May 4, 2011

Why is writing a novel so daunting?

Where to begin…

I’ve felt called, like so many, to write a longer narrative but I’ve been patiently, and impatiently, waiting for a story to tell.  I’ve tried to force a story and eventually lost energy and interest.  I’ve tried to wait for a story and enough time would pass to begin to convince me that I had misunderstood, that my “calling” had been fooled and fueled by ego instead of higher source.  I tried to be still enough to be directed and proactive enough to seek and find.  I had enough confidence to not give up and enough doubts to make Thomas look steadfast.

Finally, I let go.  I just let go.

I would like to say that it was a perfect act of faith but then I’d be less than truthful.  It was more like exhaustion.  Sometimes we let go because we just can’t hold on any longer.  And in letting go, I felt a sense of relief and, at first, I mistook that for a sign that I was pursuing something that was never meant to be.  And I was wrong but only partially.

Because now, I’m convinced more than ever that I am called to write a story and that story is coming to me in bits and whispers, in conjectures and memories.  It was how I was going about it that was all wrong, at least for me.

I heard once that a writer’s “voice” is the way a story is told in a way that only that person could tell it.  It doesn’t matter how others judge the story, the storyteller or the storytelling.  The important thing is for you to find your voice and your story.  I have been given my story.

It’s not autobiographical but, like any writings, it will come from my observations, my experiences and research, and through the filters of my life.  When I feel compelled to make notes about the stories that the novel will contain, the notes are almost always in the form of questions, not answers.  So this will be a narrative full of questions.  Maybe we’ll find some answers here and there, maybe we won’t.  Maybe you’ll find your own questions through the work.  And your own answers.

And when it’s “finished” whatever that means, ultimately, the story will be for me.  Not in some selfish sort of way for I’m willing, as you can see, to gladly share my words.  It’s just how I will be processing my life and asking my questions.  And the truth is, I’m pretty sure that my questions are not unique so in that way, the story becomes more universal.

Years ago, a good friend of mine, Jay, and I decided to hike the Appalachian Trail.  Currently the AT is listed at roughly 2,180 miles, the longest continuously marked footpath in the world, traveling through fourteen states from Georgia to Maine (or vice versa…)  Many hikers start out each spring from Springer Mountain, Georgia to thru-hike the AT and about one out of four finish at the top of Mt. Katahdin, Maine that year.  Many more, including us, section hike the Trail, doing a certain number of miles at a stretch over a number of years.  Jay and I did the first three years together and my schedule and my knee wreaked havoc and I’ve lived vicariously for the past several years as Jay has faithfully, consistently returned each year to hike another section of the Trail.  This year he leaves in late May for Pennsylvania.  In a few years, he will complete his Trail.

I learned a lot from hiking the AT and I will return to it.  For the purposes of these notes, I learned that hiking the AT is like a lot of things in life.  It takes persistence and luck, among other things to finish and not everyone who starts will finish.  I also learned that everyone must hike their own Trail.  I have learned that I must write my own novel, in my own way.  Is it daunting?  Yes.  But what in life that’s worth your energy, your love, your sweat and your time isn’t daunting? And in some respects, understanding the investment required of us, the commitment, the passion, the willingness to “finish” is why life is so daunting.  And also the reason, ultimately, it’s worth it.

So I’m going to section hike my novel, completing parts as I am led.  Following the marked blazes along this journey and hoping that I’m smart enough and wise enough to stop and enjoy the trip.

Thank you for joining in for the trip.  Let’s get on the Trail.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2011 6:38 pm

    Terry, this could not be more beautifully put, Sweet Man. I feel your honor in your call and so look forward to not only reading about your hike but reading what the hike brings.

  2. May 4, 2011 8:16 pm

    “Sometimes we let go because we just can’t hold on any longer.” And so often, that is when grace appears.

    So glad that you are working steadily on the novel and starting to blog about it!

  3. Beverly Sanford permalink
    May 6, 2011 8:53 am

    So very beautifully written-
    Thanks for sharing your words, insight and journey.
    I have bookmarked your blog!:)

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