Yesterday was the final day of a week of writing in Margaret River. What makes it stand out for me is that my seven days of deskwork occurred at the same time as Pam’s 130-kilometer Cape to Cape pack carry hike. She’s doing exactly what I used to relish, a tough physical adventure away from society, and she’s had a river crossing drama that in the past would have been part of my life’s narrative.
Why am I not hiking? When asked, I say I’m lazy or not sufficiently walk-fit (this is valid but not a sufficient excuse, I’ve hiked when tender of foot before), but the truth is, I decided writing was more important to me.
So I’ll end up having nothing to talk about on my return home, having foregone a narrative of at least moderate interest to many. Do I now have regrets? A few, mostly around questions of pride: am I not strong enough, brave enough? But at another private level, the writing week I had was as much of a struggle as the Cape to Cape would have been, and I had thrilling moments equal to any I’d have experienced on a clifftop or beach or night-black campsite.
My nuclear history book has crushed the patience of all those around me. Well over a decade on one book … you’ve got to be kidding, right? But I can tell you, it has more than crushed my patience, it has come close to devastating me, to the extent of threatening the vary basis of the meaning I ascribe to life. Luckily, family and friends have buoyed me, and my first foray into therapy has, to my surprise, rejuvenated my stock of existential meaning, at the same time that a “health scare” that was not a “health event” has widened my window of opportunity.
Hence this latest Big Year, a “Publication Big Year.” It won’t have any physical drama, nor any fascinating “bucket list” events, nor any revelatory investigations. It’s a grifting, grafting, grinding big year. I have a publication plan (which, right now, needs amending), I have as clean a slate of distractions as I can recall, and I have a honed “method” of daily work.
I’ll leave it at that for now. All this big year requires is daily work on the book (with hopefully few days off over the next fifteen months). All that I’ll blog about is the daily battle and the progress against plan.
For some reason, I’m as juiced up by this boring big year as I was over the more dramatic big years in the 2015-2020 period. What a thrill, starting tomorrow!
In theory it’s simple to work wherever and whenever, and depending on the type of writing I’m at, usually I’m effective. This week Pam is hiking the long Cape to Cape Trail in Western Australia. I pulled out (laziness? unfitness? new priorities?) and am living by myself in Margaret River. The situation is work-idyllic: zero distractions, wonderful Drift Cafe, fine accommodation. But the first four days proved to be only a half-successful effort. There was the moving from one place to another, there was something I ate, etc., etc. There was also, I now realize, the wrench of moving from a wonderful birding vacation to work mode.
No matter. Day five of seven, and I’m wired and on, on, on. A pile of research notes, the Ulysses writing app on the iPad, a pen, coffee (of course) in Drift. Yes!