This is the current opening of the manuscript I’m working on. A new friend recently encouraged me to share my work instead of hiding it until it is “done”……so here it is. My new grad school mentor has already politely suggested it needs some work, and the love of my life has said she isn’t fond of it (which means she hates it). I’ve re-written it, revised it, tossed it completely and tried a different approach, but I come back to this one. Thoughts and opinions?
My name is Finn, and I’m walking across America. Technically, I’m walking down America on the Appalachian Trail. I departed from Falls Village, Connecticut, and I may or may not arrive at Springer Mountain, Georgia; the end of the trail. There are a variety of reasons for this potentially vague outcome. Mainly, a more concrete objective would require having a plan and a purpose. I have neither. So, maybe a more apt statement is I am meandering aimlessly down America while trying to follow eighty two thousand splashes of white paint. The world has heroes and heroic journeys. I am not one of those, and this is not one of them. I’m a guy meandering aimlessly about America and writing about it.
I suppose this could be called a memoir. That’s such a pretentious word. Leaders of nations or rock stars are the people who write memoirs. The former may give us a glimpse into the rationale or motivation for world changing decisions. The latter is pure self indulgence, but I suppose there are people who will be enriched by knowing Rock Star X banged four groupies in the bus on the way from Akron to Little Rock. I’ll just call this a story about a guy who happens to be me. Aspiring writers are always told to “write what they know.” Well, I’ve known me since way back in the day. I’ll do my best not to let my familiarity with me cloud my objectivity, but you and I both know that’s impossible. You’re the reader so it’s your job to decide when you want to call bullshit.
So, my name is Finn, and I’m meandering about America and writing a story about me while I go. If I had a bigger budget, or any budget, I’d hire that guy who does the voiceovers for movie trailers. “One man……..One man alone in America…….One man on a quest to find himself by getting lost……” I’ve spent a lot of time pondering if I’m journeying toward something or running away from something else. Again, that’s for you to decide. What I can say with certainty is that traveling by foot with a fifty pound backpack is not the most efficient way to do either. A nice town car or RV comes to mind. Hell, there are days when I think a seat at the back of a Greyhound bus next to a fat guy who smells like chicken and wants to talk about Star Wars action figures would be better.
The most common question I get is why am I doing this? Actually, that’s the most common question I get from strangers. People I know more often ask, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” We shall delve into the many answers to that question as we go. There is some romantic element to it…….a modern day Thoreau with a bigger set than just a pond…….a midlife version of “Into the Wild” except for the part when he dies. I found that story tragic; not because he dies alone in the wilderness but because he dies alone in the wilderness right after deciding he didn’t want to be alone in the wilderness. Maybe I’m more Forrest Gump. There is a practical component. Meandering aimlessly about America seems a better prescription than sitting in a therapist’s office, swallowing mood inhibiting meds, or drinking a twelve pack of beer in a room with the curtains drawn. There is the existential rationale; because it’s there. It’s a challenge. What will I do on the days when I can’t tie my shoes or open my water bottle?
It’s all of that and a bag of chips and more. Mostly, I had to do something, and this is what I thought of. Yes, I know that’s a dangling participle. It still sounds better than “this is the thing of which I thought.” I also know you’re thinking that’s not much of an answer as to the why. Guess you have to read the book, huh? I’ll be the tour guide. In the end, you can decide if I had a good story or I’m a self indulgent fucktard.