Category Archives: Writing

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.

Another writing milestone complete

As I round up chapter 20 of the fourth draft of my PCT memoir today, I thought it might be fitting to take you back three and a half years to when I was halfway through my first draft in 2015.

I’ve been intermittently posting videos of my ‘artistic journey’ over the past couple of months, and even though I only have 38 followers on my Muk Muk YouTube Channel, I’m enjoying sharing the experience in the hope to help other struggling writers like myself realize they’re not alone on that unpredictable, emotional rollercoaster we ride every time we sit down in front of our laptops to say something.

I’ve also committed to taking more risks this year and to stop caring too much about what people think. I’ve realized there’s really nothing to lose, and that failing to fulfill my potential is more painful than trying and not succeeding. I’ve also committed to being more self-confident in 2019, so I’m urging you all to sign up to my YouTube channel because even if you’re not into writing, watching me struggle and succeed during the biggest single undertaking of my entire existence will hopefully teach you something, or at the very least be entertaining!

5 years later I’m still hiking the PCT

October 7, 2013  will always be a special date for me. It was the day I completed the hardest thing I’d ever attempted in my life. It was the day I faced snowstorms, lost snowshoes, slid down bus-sized washouts, found myself lost in a whiteout, and was saved by the trail gods when my GPS miraculously started working again – remember? If not you can relive the experience here.

I arrived at the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail alone after 176 days. I never knew if and how I would make it to the end, until those wooden posts came into view and I realised I’d actually arrived.

That was five years ago today, and it feels as though everything and nothing has changed since then. The PCT taught me what I was capable of, the power of nature, the beauty of simple living, and the importance of community. It taught me to trust in the universe, demonstrated the best of the human spirit, and showed me that anything is achievable, one step at a time.

Keeping my blog introduced me to my passion for writing, and when I finished the trail in 2013, many people urged me to write a book about my experience. I’m happy to report that I am, and am currently in the midst of draft four having started writing back in May of 2014.

Back then I realised I had to put pen to paper to make sense of it all, and my first drafts were more like therapy than articulate prose. But if I thought hiking the PCT was the hardest thing I’d ever done, writing a book about it knocks that out of the park. Imagine hiking a section of trail, and then going back to hike it again a hundred times over just to make sure you didn’t miss anything. I’ve continued to hike the PCT on paper over the past five years, and I find it amazing I still have the energy to keep going. The story never gets old, it’s just taken me years to refine my skills so I can give the characters and events the credit they deserve.

I’ve kept videos diaries of my writing process since the beginning, and am going to start posting them on my new Muk Muk YouTube channel (to which I have zero subscribers to be sure to sign up), in the hope that by the time I post the last one, I might have reached the end of draft four and be ready to send it to a publisher. I hope these videos will help other wanna-be-writers like me suffering through their own personal hell. Writing is just like hiking the trail, with moments of great beauty interspersed with pain, suffering and an insatiable hunger to be finished. I look forward to sharing the experience with you, and celebrating the moment I cross that border for the very last time.

Muk Muk

Writing a Memoir – Video 1 – The Beginning