Tomorrow I shall be back on the path starting from Pamplona and I promise/hope to blog regularly and I promise/hope not to blog on those staples of what I eat, what the weather is like and whether the albergues are good or bad. We shall see! The objective is to walk with my fictional characters as they walk, meet, fall in love, separate, face death and numerous complications on and off the Camino over a period of two years. Now, they do not meet until after Burgos so there will be much preparatory time as we first follow our hero Tom.
See you on the Camino!
In May/June I plan to walk the Camino section between Pamplona and Leon, thereby completing my journey from Le Puy en Velay to Santiago over the last two years. Echoing in my mind is the editor’s question of what motivates people to undertake these long solitary walks along the old pilgrimage trails, especially when I told her that my [probably crazy] next idea is to walk from Canterbury to Rome, the old Via Francigena. I could only reply that my motives mirror those of my hero in my novel-in-progress: redemption, forgiveness, reflection alone in silence and, of course, writing and the sheer challenge of putting one foot after the other for days and weeks on end. Plus meeting intriguing characters who come and go and who all have their own stories which we writers plunder for future use. It is difficult to put into words, but perhaps a key motive is that it forces me to see and to experience everything at a slower pace. Nothing happens fast and my senses operate in ways they never do in city daily life.
The last two years I have walked from Leon to Santiago and from Le Puy en Velay to Pamplona, sections of the Camino, Compostella, Chemin de Saint Jacques, whichever name you prefer, keeping a daily journal and then turning the observations into a story. This is the spine of my current novel in progress to which I have referred in previous posts. It is a story of love and death, of mysteries and secrets, set on the Camino in contemporary times. Why the Camino? Not for religious reasons, ‘spiritual’ would be a better term, but because it is a path for people undertaking arduous physical journeys and seeking something [an epiphany?] beyond ourselves. A meaning, a purpose, an explanation or simply a clearer understanding of ourselves and of what is important for us. A metaphor for life’s journey I guess. What a perfect setting, on a path 1000 years old where every stone and step holds a story and where millions of pilgrims have trod before you. Did I have an epiphany? Yes, two in fact: understanding that my children and my grandchildren are the most important things in my life [okay, I ‘knew’ this already, now I ‘live’ it] and seeing that I had to clear the rest of my life to make space for writing fiction.
No, not what you may be thinking. Rather, this is my first foray into the world of blogging. Having spent much of my life working with words and ideas, it is time to enter this new [for me] form of sharing and commenting, especially as the ‘hero’ in my work-in-progress novel is an aspiring blogger and novelist so we have art imitating life or, more accurately, life imitating art in my case. Speaking of ‘walking’, this is another great passion and in May I intend to walk the Via Gebennensis from Geneva to Le Puy; last year I walked the Via Podiensis from Le Puy to Pamplona and the year before part of the Camino from Leon to Santiago, setting my novel in the wonderful history and romance of these great traditional pilgrimage paths. Writing and walking as two different quests for meaning and an authentic voice: sounds pretentious I know, so let’s stress the fun of it all. This is why I took early retirement from universities 7 years ago and now have cleared the decks to write and to wander.
No more excuses!
Let us see what happens!