Monday, January 19, 2015

Musings about My Memoir

As most of you know, I’m in the process of transcribing my PCT journal. “Transcribing” is perhaps not the best word— I’m often working with very little material. For instance, here are my eloquent words from Day 35:

May 29 Thurs.
Walking thru woods up steep hills, ending up in desert. Poop convo @ spring with Pesky & British guy. Water cache is almost empty. Anxiety re. water.

And then I take that and turn it into a thousand-word journal entry. There’s only been two spots so far that jog no memories, and Zach was able to help me out with one. 

It's not like the whole desert looked like this. But most of it did.
I’m happy to say that, after many days of work (being the great record-keeper that I am, I have no idea when I started), I’ve finished Part One of my memoir! That means I’ve recorded almost all of the events up until Day 40, when we reached Kennedy Meadows. Forty days in the wilderness. 702 miles in the desert. It’s quite a chunk of trail.

Writing these entries is emotionally exhausting. I relive every moment. I have to keep lots of water on hand when writing about the desert. After writing an entry about one of the windy days, I feel like curling up in a quiet room, as if the noise of the wind has been howling in my ears all day.

I have a feeling that the next section, the High Sierra, is going to be really tough to write about. The High Sierra was pretty darn traumatizing for me. Most people remember the Sierra as a place of unspeakable beauty, amazing challenges, and non-stop jaw-dropping wonder. I remember my body wasting away, the gnawing hunger that never went away, the lack of food, the sickening fear of crossing snowy passes, the panic that we were running out of money, the constant emotional outbursts, the body that felt so weak and malnourished that I often almost collapsed. It’s going to be tough to go through that again. Some might say that’s the stuff that makes the story most compelling. I think it’s the part of the story that makes me sound most like a crybaby wuss.

At any rate, I’m proud of myself for having completed Part One. Currently, it’s a mere 57,371 words— yes, that’s the length of a novel. Considering that this memoir will most likely have five parts… well, it may end up being an epic to rival War and Peace.

But at least I’m writing it, right?


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