This just in: How to Bake a Perfect Life is a finalist for the RITA award this year!!
In 2010, I walked 100 miles of the Camino de Santiago. I have been thinking about it a lot, partly because my new book, The Garden of Happy Endings, is coming out in a few weeks, and it is deeply rooted in that long walk.
I am also thinking about it because some friends and I are mulling the logistics of walking the entire Camino, roughly 500 miles, in 2013.
Every time I think of it, I get a jolt of excitement and pleasure—but I told my beloved that I don’t really get why. The Camino was not my first –or even my tent–long walk. It’s kind of a habit. I’ve hiked over a hundred miles in the French Alps, and even as a child, I found pleasure in the Walk-A-Thons of the day, 20 miles in a day. So hard! So great! I always finished with a sweaty, exhausted sense of bliss.
The only other time I feel that tingling depth of bliss is in finishing a book and shipping it off . It’s something few people will ever experience. It’s so bizarrely hard, but also so seemingly easy.
Like long distance walking.
Writing and long distance walking are very much the same kind of activity. Day to day, nothing much seems to happen. You write a page or seven, you walk a mile or ten, one word, one foot in front of the other after the other after the other after the other, day after day after day. After awhile, you’ve piled up the pages of a novel, walked a hundred miles.
My partner runs. Runners are flashier creatures. It is far more dazzling to run a marathon than walk one, even walk a hundred miles. People gasp in amazement when they hear his running time to top of Pikes Peak. And it is an accomplishment, no doubt. It takes endless training, hard training.
But to walk a marathon, you have to train, too. The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is a marathon (26 miles) plus a half marathon the next day. To train for it, I walked ten miles each Saturday and Sunday, for a couple of months. It took a lot of time. Hours. Me and the road and my iPod and my Camelbak, walking and walking. One foot in front of the other. It’s not glamorous. It’s not anything, really—but it adds up to a lot.
Just like those pages. [Read more…]