The loneliness of the long-distance writer

A year ago, I was just a couple of weeks away from finishing my adventure in the woods and was plodding confidently through Maine with my new pals.  This turned out to be an experience which has forever changed me, in ways I still can’t adequately quantify.  However, for the past 6 months, I’ve been trying to put the adventure into words, incorporating not only my posts, but also my back story to try and define what this meant to me and how, and why, I did it.

The reason for this post is to mark something of a milestone, as I have just written my 100,000th word.  To me, this is a staggeringly high number, as I was concerned at the outset that I wouldn’t be able to write even 50,000 words, yet I find I have so much more to say than I would ever have imagined.  Re-reading my posts and watching my videos and pictures once more, I have seen everything with new eyes, often glimpsing people in the videos and pictures I wouldn’t actually meet for another couple of hundred miles, as well as noticing quite how often I recorded my loneliness.

I should also let you know that these 100,000 words have taken me to a point in Pennsylvania that still leaves me about 1,000 miles to hike.

Now back home and recovered from the physical aspects of the hike, I find that recording my story has taken on a new dimension, yet it ressembles the hike in its loneliness and mental demands.

I learned that the AT can be interpreted as a metaphor for life, in that you have to face what the trail, or your day, has in store for you and get through your day as best you can and back to your home (my tent) at night.  During the day, there will be ups and downs and the odd level path, yet it constantly throws something new at you and your only response can be to face it and overcome it.  I fell constantly, as I have in life, yet there was never an alternative to getting up again, dusting myself off, repairing cuts and bruises and moving forward.

Writing this has been a painful self-examination and I still have no idea if it is any good, yet it has been cathartic for me to do.  The loneliness pervades my writing yet the end stays in my sight.  I know that I was able to get that iconic picture on the top of Katahdin as I exalted in my triumph at completing the trail.  I just hope that the last word in this book feels just as good.