Back to the drawing board

I’m either insanely persistent, completely crazy, or everything in between, because today I went back to the drawing board to analyse my memoir. You remember that book I’ve been talking about for the past six years? The one I’ve written five times already? Yeah, that one. It’s back in my life. I’m determined this is the final time I go through it though because as much as I love the PCT and cherish my trail experience, I need to move on from this god-damn manuscript.

The funny thing is, it took deciding to let the memoir go once and for all to reignite my passion for it. I’d finally made the decision the book had run its course and that I’d learned all I needed to through the writing experience. I even held a small ceremony to say goodbye, which I filmed a couple of months ago. (The preview is upside-down but the video is not.)

Then, after sifting through the emails I’d sent myself with notes and ideas, I came across a draft of the ‘Author’s Note’ I had written more recently. I was shocked to discover the writing was actually good, dare I say pleasing to read, and it made me rethink all the other ‘well written’ parts of the memoir I was about to throw away. (Apologies for all the cuss words in this video…)

The crazy thing was I felt immediately energised and motivated to write again. I later decided that instead of writing the book as a memoir, I would just write excerpts from the trail that connected  parts of the story together. But I’ve since realised I’ll never be satisfied if I don’t write this as the memoir I set out to write, so here I am again, six years later, back at the drawing board.

During all these years I planned to buy sticky notes and complete the exercise of planning before starting to write, and for six years I just dove straight into the business of writing and prayed the story would come together by itself. I did a pretty good job considering my naivety. But after having had a year away from it, and a year of growth in-between, I can now see all the pieces that are missing. Basically everything Betsy, the editor I paid in New York, pointed out so clearly last year was correct. It’s just a shame I got knocked down so badly it’s taken me a year to recover.

Even though I know everything that’s wrong with the memoir, I still don’t have all the answers of how to ‘right’ it just yet. That’s where the sticky notes come in, the book Story Genius by Lisa Cron, the Story Grid podcast with Sean Coyne and Tim Grahl, The Creativity Campus created by my dear friend and author Chrissy, AND last but not least, my wonderful editor and friend Heske, who has walked this trail during every single draft beside me.

I wasn’t going to tell anyone I was writing another draft, and I’m not promising a finished product. But all of you have been on this journey from the beginning too, so like it or not, you’re coming with me. Perfectionism, people’s opinions, and generally saying the wrong thing has really stumped my writing these last few months. I’ve felt narcissistic even writing about myself when there is so much going on in the world and so much pain being suffered. But I’ve missed writing and connecting with my online community, so I’m glad to be back here again.

29 thoughts on “Back to the drawing board”

  1. We need your unique voice in the world 🙂 You have so many gifts to share. I love following your journey, it’s like having a friend walking beside me on mine; through tough times it reminds me that we are not alone. Hope you are well dear friend. x

    1. Thanks Sarah, it’s great to hear from you and I appreciate your support so much! I hope life is treating you well wherever you are in this world! Xo

  2. Muk!
    My friend, as you know writing can be cathartic and healing. By all means take that for yourself in this world we are in today. I encourage you and pray reliving the joy of the PCT will return for you. Draw on that courage and drive that drive you onward through those heavy snows you endured through Washington to finish the trail. Many dropped out, but not Muk Muk. Love you my friend!!

    1. Awww thank you Judi! I love hearing from you! Writing can indeed be therapeutic and healing, and I anticipate if I don’t put too much pressure on the end result, this journey will be both cathartic and nostalgic and hopefully fun! I really hope you’re doing okay and am sending you loads of good wishes and love! Muk 💕

  3. Dear Muk,

    For quite a while now, I have had trouble finding my words. I grasp for a thought and fumble it out of my mouth. My writing has been no easier, no better. So I went quiet.
    Very quiet.
    OK….darkly quiet.

    But this news, this ray of sunshine, just brightened up my mood.
    As always, you inspires me like the my own personal muse.

    Sooooooo looking forward to this part of the journey.

    From Oregon,
    Where Lyndella Sing
    (sometimes the songs are sadder than others)

    1. Oh Lyndella, thank you for reaching out and sharing an insight into your struggles. I’m sorry to hear about the dark places you have been with your writing and your challenge to communicate your thoughts. I can absolutely relate. It makes me so happy to think my post brought you some joy and I pray that sunlight will continue to shine on you when you need it. Sending you love! ☀️

    1. Thank you Susan for your absolute confidence in my story! ‘The book is going to work’ is going to be my new mantra!! Xo

  4. Hello Muk,

    I just read your post and thought about your hike and your writing. After finishing your post just now, I read this article on walking. Here’s the link.

    https://getpocket.com/explore/item/walk-this-way-how-to-optimise-your-stride-and-focus-your-mind-to-get-the-most-from-your-daily-stroll?utm_source=pocket-newtab

    It made me think of your writing and the wrestling match you have had, making it what other professionals want it to be. And while reading the above article I began to think. What if, you hiked the PCT again, and instead of writing a blog, you wrote the story of your first hike!

    Hey, I did say it was a CRAZY idea!

    I’m going to have a Nutella wrap for lunch and take a long walk.

    Good luck and take care,
    Tim
    ps I would read anything you wrote about your PCT adventure.

    1. Hey Tim!!! Ahhhhh… it’s so good to hear from you. Reconnecting with friends from the trail brings me right back to those miles! The community of people I met both physically and virtually was the best takeaway from that experience. I often think about walking the trail again, and I have a serious longing to do so. But it wouldn’t be the same trail without the people. That’s what gave the trail meaning, even though the trail itself is teeming with life. I loved the article you sent and have expedited the creative benefits of walking many times. That’s why I had sent so many emails to myself over the years with snippets of ideas to incorporate when I got back to my laptop! There are so many benefits to walking. I just wish I could walk and write my memoir at the same time effectively!! Hope you’re well! Sending many hugs! 🤗

  5. Whoohoo. I’ve been terrified that I would pass away before having the chance to read your manuscript. It would be fascinating to compare draft #1 with whatever you finish with. Luckily you are still connected to the earth there in BC as I doubt you’d think about it again if you returned to suburbia and regular 9 to 5 life. Go Mucky!

    1. Thanks Rex! I’d like to think it’ll be finished in your lifetime haha! The draft 1 comparison would be intriguing, but I’m glad no one needs to be subjected to those 250,000 words except for Heske my editor! Much love xoxo

  6. Hi Muk!

    Thanks for posting this update! It’s such a joy to follow along on your journey, ever since the PCT. It’s also comforting – especially in difficult times like right now – because it reminds me that there’s other people out there who have led this “nomadic” lifestyle, jumping from one place to the next.

    I would just say that your book doesn’t have to be perfect nor does it need to appeal to everybody. But there is a significant group of people who would love to read it.

    1. Hi Mike, thank you for your words and the important reminder about perfectionism! I have to keep myself in check on that daily. I really appreciate your support! Muk

  7. Hi darling
    What an amazing video you showed. One press of a button and you feel lighter, it’s like a heavy load has been taken of your shoulder you say. You were very brave just then. Only you know what was written down and we as your blog readers can only imagine what it would have been.
    You are a brilliant writer and I know that you are determinant enough to keep writing because you love doing that. There will be a book , one day, with your name on it. Keep writing and enjoy. Love you, Mutti xx

    1. Thanks for the support Mutti. That determines spirit comes from you, which I’m grateful for. I feel happier and more purposeful with the possibility of the book still ahead of me. There was something missing from my life last year, and it made me realise just how important writing is for me. Part of me knew I couldn’t leave this project unfinished, but I needed a year away from it to develop the motivation and energy to face it again. Sending you all my love xo 😘

  8. I just finished my comments and they suddenly disappeared….but, I wish so much to “talk” with you, somewhat like you are doing with your writing…your are an amazing writer, a gift, for sure..I am so glad you got inspired to go back to your manuscript. All of us want to go with you, again, on your long PCT trail…your blogs and videos were such an incredible experience for all of us… ( I am going to click on this so that I don’t lose it…will continues on next reply)

  9. Some of us will never be able to do trails again, so with reading helps us to imagine we are on trail with the writers…and that is the way I think when I know I can read your story…I so look forward to go on that trip with you…

    1. Awww thank you Barbie. I so want to take you on that journey with me again. I too have another chance to relive it, and I hope to see it with the innocence I had during the physical hike, and also the wisdom I have gained over the past seven years. Sending you all my love! 💚

  10. It is always a pleasure to get your updates and hear what you are up to. I am looking forward to reading your book as you have an amazing ability to write about being in the outdoors better than anyone I have ever come across.

    1. Thanks Neville! That’s certainly setting the bar high haha! But I appreciate your compliment and support immensely. Hearing feedback like this only strengthens my resolve to get this done! Hope you’re doing well! Muk

  11. There’s an old expression in baseball–“aiming the pitch”. Basically it means that when pitchers try to be too perfect they often times become less effective. I find myself doing this all the time. The ability to relax and be confident in your own abilities can be the key to success. It sounds like you’ve discovered this on your own. Well done Roxanne!

    1. Thanks Dave! Recognising it is one thing, putting it into practice is another. I’m going to keep this example in mind when I get stuck or revert to those perfectionist behaviours! Hope you’re doing great. Lots of love!

  12. PS My spelling is an area where I need less “aiming the pitch”. And the aging process doesn’t help, Rozanne. Aha! Spell-check’s the culprit

  13. Hi Suzanne!! Been slow to making a comment regarding your decision to keep on going on! I am really glad to hear that. I would miss reading your book so much that it’s hard to explain. I’ve said it once or maybe twice that I love going on that trip with you. I will never forget it. I hope someday, when you get to San Diego, to visit your friends, That you won’t forget to come and visit me! This COVID-19 situation is a very big trial for all of us in this whole world. It’s been hard to believe that this happened. Makes me kind of sad, very sad that this is happening all over the world. So many have lost their lives so many loved ones have suffered the loss, and so many have suffered the sickness. I’m trying my best at my age to not get sick. It’s been a hard time not being able to socialize with my friends. I trust this is not happening to you in Canada. Please be safe. I love you to the moon and back. From your old friend in San Diego California Barbie

    1. Thank you for your message Barbie! I’m grateful with all that’s going on you can still spare a thought for me! I bet it’s been tough not being able to socialise with your friends. We’ve been so lucky here in Canada. I count my blessings everyday living where I do. I hope I will be able to visit San Diego again soon! Sending all my love. I haven’t been writing this summer but it’s high on the agenda for fall and winter later this year! 💕

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