11 Lessons From Writing A Book
“Writing is hard for every last one of us… Coal…
To post or not to post? I read my pal Andy’s blog post and could relate – it acted as a catalyst and a realisation that, for the last month or so, the content that has been published on this blog has been covering up the reality to avoid negativity. It’s easier to be positive if you just focus on what’s been happening in front of your eyes instead of behind them. And who wants to read a negative post, really? There’s enough negativity in the world without yet another blog joining the bandwagon. But covering up the truth in fake positivity is disengaging and it’s see-through. And maybe writing this stuff down will be therapeutic.
There’s been emails from people saying things like “Savour every moment”, and “You’re living my dream!”. And I just think about how ghetto it is, or the hour every night spent finding a place to sleep. Waking up in lay-by’s and carparks day after day, week after week, is not something to savour.
It isn’t glamorous, and there are times when I sit on the grass in the morning, looking at the bike with resentment. Why did I sign up for this?
In retrospect I’ll look back on this as ‘living the dream’, for sure. There are times now that I look back on with such fondness. It’s been one of the best periods of my life. No doubt. A bike ride across a continent and a trip that has brought me together with people who I’ve looked up to and taken inspiration from for years. Pinch-me, how-on-earth-did-this-happen moments.
But it can be so draining, demoralising and depressing, even when you’re in the most amazing areas. And there’s times when I think about those emails and think, it should be them doing this, not me. I’m a fraud and they’re not. They’d wake up stoked about pedaling all day, whereas I go through phases of waking up with dread. What’s the point in yet more days in the saddle? The tough parts are pedaling every day to get anywhere, and having to find a new place to sleep, dry out, wash and escape the rain, every single day. That quickly adds up.
I always looked at ‘adventurers’ with a hint of annoyance. They’d use terms like ‘quest’ and publish ‘memoirs’ about their time away. It would often hum of pretension and schmuck, and in more-than-a-few cases I got the feeling that their adventures were more about public speaking gigs than the actual experience. Even now, when somebody refers to themselves as an adventurer it makes me shudder. I’d read the blogs, and just didn’t buy it. Wasn’t this just hyperbole designed to appeal to a reality TV audience who didn’t know any better?
They’d talk about how mentally tough it had been, and I’d think, hang on a minute, you’re rowing across an ocean in a boat with a Sat Phone and pinpoint navigation, all you do is row, it can’t be that hard. Get-bloody-on-with-it or stop complaining and quit if you don’t want to be there.
The real adventurers were those who operated under the radar – they’d sail to uncharted lands at a time before GPS, flares and helicopter rescue, or escape from a prisoner of war camp and walk for a year through the jungle, battling anacondas and avoiding the arrows of tribesmen. The explorers who fought pirates with swords. They were heroes, rather than self-branded, media-savvy “adventurers”. And they got on with it rather than purposefully trying to grow an audience by telling everyone how epic it was. I thought that in a modern and connected world, adventure was nearly impossible to find.
And then I set off on this trip and my opinion didn’t change. If anything it was reinforced for the first few months. It wasn’t hard. It was sore but never unbearable. You’re connected almost everywhere. And then after a while, slowly my opinion did start to change.
It’s not the physical side that makes a hardcore adventure. You don’t have to walk through the jungle for 18 months or fight pirates. It’s 100% mental and unique to each person. It’s the toll of time, not the toll on your body. Overcoming the demons that grow in your head and scream at you to stop. It’s like athleticism in that respect. It’s arduous. The best athletes are the ones who do their time, push through it and put in the 10,000 hours. Results don’t come from a single race. But committing to that time is an intimidating thing, even after nine months.
My subconcious constantly asks “what’s the point of what you’re doing?” It’s ignoring that question, or trying to answer it, that’s challenging. It’s keeping going.
It’s this weird way of life where nothing is moderate. It’s great or it’s shit. Rarely it’s in between. Honestly, there’s no place I’d rather be most of the time. I feel a sick and twisted attraction to the mental game. But at the same time, sometimes it’s the polar opposite of enjoyable. That’s strange and full of hypocrisies, I know, but it seems to be the curse of movement, the road, and living a stripped down life that at the moment is literally strapped to a set of wheels. There are no sides – I love it and hate it at the same time.
This project has totally changed how I view adventure – it is real. And if it is mental, then this is most certainly a really wild adventure. But it’s still not a quest, ok?