Friday, November 25, 2011
Today is the deadline for submitting my manuscript. The book will be called Counting Steps - journeys through fatherhood and landscape, it will be published next year. I've spent the entire week revising, shaping, printing and sorting - there are few new words, I'm fiddling now and I know it - in truth, I want to move on.
I was thinking this week of all those mountaineering stories in which the climbers spend years preparing, weeks ascending and minutes on the summit. That's not only to return safely, it's because they've accomplished what they set out to achieve. Often, they speak of an anti-climax. I remember something of the sort when I kayaked in Asia. The greatest pleasure in those trips was the anticipation of going and the satisfaction afterwards. I hope books are like that too.
Ten years ago I was a painter, turning to writing when my sketchbook filled more with words than pictures. The crafts are different but they have similarities: both require truth, a looking inward as well as out, and a willingness to commit. Elements of my book are uncomfortable, and I'm conscious that some of my wider family may be hurt by what I have to say about my father. I hope they'll see the bigger picture, for ultimately it is a book inspired by joy, about the power of love and landscape; the ability to come through.
Yesterday I drafted the introduction - curious, how we end at the beginning - and I was thinking about the title. Why are you counting steps? I asked Daniel on our first backpacking trip. Is it to know how far we've come? Oh no, he replied, it's in case we have to go back in the dark. I hope that never happens.
Writing is a bittersweet passion. My book is about the people and places I love - and yet I have worked alone, needing silence and space, distance from those I care about most. But it is they who have dominated my thoughts, given me courage and inspiration - without Jane and my boys, the words would have no meaning.