Reviewing the future…

A hiker signs the register at the southern ter...

Appalachian Trail
Appalachian Trail (Photo credit: Clover_1)

The BSW and I have a running joke about “reviewing the future.”  She’s very good at it.  She probably would have done quite well in commodities trading

I was reviewing my writing future this morning.  I have a couple months until the final deadline for my grad school thesis.  It still needs much work, but it has been nearly two years since my writing present involved anything except this manuscript, this work in progress, this Sisyphusian (I just made that word up.  Copyright to come) effort.  The current length of the book is 238 pages (its length changes frequently and dramatically).  I can flip to any of those pages and recite it word for word.  I’m pretty happy with the story I’ve told, but I’m also sick of it.

I was talking to my mentor a few weeks ago and mentioned that my next work would involve a happy, unaware idiot who dreams of being a Broadway showgirl (that is about as “opposite” of my current work as I can fathom).  I meant it to be funny in a rueful way; maybe rueful in a funny way.  She immediately pointed out that she followed up her novel, “The Convalescent,” by writing a multi-media children’s book.  I jokingly call her God, but she might actually be omniscient.

My present project involves a clinically depressed, suicidal, unemployed, broke guy with a degenerative disease and a murdered child who hikes the Appalachian trail seeking solace.  (It’s very cheery stuff.  Those who know my general history understand how difficult it is to write.  Those who know my very recent history understand that revision has become excruciating.)  I want my next work to be about…..The Appalachian Trail.

There are a few reasons for this.  First, my current work is not at all about the trail.  It is about the character’s interior journey.  The exterior journey just happens to be on the AT.  Second, distance hiking has a way of getting under the skin and infecting.  It seems to be a virus with no cure.  Third, I think I have a story I need to tell.

There are many memoirs about hiking the trail.  Cheryl Strayed currently has a bestselling memoir about hiking the PCT.  I don’t want to write that story again.  I want to write about who hikes the trail and why.  There are very specific types of people who undertake such a hardship.  Nobody has told that story.

I’m sitting at my laptop this morning with a throbbing knee.  For the first time in months, I had to get out my cane to get around.  I fall into at least three of the types of people who set out on long distance hikes. 

I don’t know if I’ll write this next book.  I don’t know if I can.  It’s nice to think about though.  What’s next on your writing list?

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