Saturday, August 09, 2008


Several people have said I should write a book about my trip. I don't know how to write a book. I don't even know how to write a story.

I was reading something online from a web site devoted to personal development and one thing that it said was that you will know when it's time to do something when people start asking you for it. I guess that means I need to take a writing class and write a book.

I never intended to write a book about my hike. I met others on the trail who were hiking it for that very purpose. I didn't think those people had an especially interesting story to tell. There were some out there who did have an interesting story and I encouraged them to write books. But I never felt like my story was very unique or interesting.

I never saw myself as a bumbling idiot like other personal accounts of long distance hikes. My story isn't particularly funny, nor did I have any brilliant revelations about the Meaning of Life. I set no speed records, have no tales of incredible bravery or physical prowess. I wasn't especially heroic or pure about the trail. I didn't even hike the whole thing. I don't understand yet what the hike accomplished in my life, where it will lead me, or what it ultimately means to me.

I do see that it has themes of birds and cages, freedom and following a path. Of course it has the last two. We all shared that theme. That is why I think a writing class will help me. I hope I'll learn how to take my blog posts and make them coherent and meaningful and not boring or forced. I hope that I can write something worthwhile. If not, making the attempt to write my story as a book ought to help me in some way.

I remember when I was in the second grade we had to cut out construction paper in the shape of right and left feet and write a story about feet on them. I messed up my story by starting it on the right foot instead of the left, so my feet forever hung backwards when displayed taped to the wall. But the story itself was pretty clever about a pair of feet that ran away, had a big adventure and then went home and put on a body.

I thought of that story often as I hiked the PCT. It seemed like I was living a real life version of it in some way.

Because of that story and many others I wrote in childhood, people were pretty certain I'd become a writer. I thought I would, too, until writing was beaten out of my by English classes and jobs where I was made to understand with absolute certainty that I am most definitely not a writer.

So, don't expect a book to come out of me. It might not. But it's worth a try.


  1. Piper,
    I find your writing and the topics about which you write to be very interesting. I miss running into you on the PCT.

    I'm trying to deal with my own writing issues. I have even started a blog to move into from my Trailjournals site. But right now I seem to be distracted with designing a small, 'green', low impact house.

    Paul (emilysdad)

  2. Thank you for the compliment. It's good to be interested in something, especially something as interesting as designing a house.

    I don't know if you ever met crow, but she lives a very low-impact lifestyle in a cabin in the woods. I learned about composting toilets from following the links on her blog. Her blog is She's still on the trail.

  3. Diane--
    writing groups? classes? hey: you've got a book right now! take it from one who taught writing for 33 years! you don't need it! Tom Lyon

  4. Thanks for the compliment. It's so much easier to blog! I can copy and paste posts together but it's not really coherent as a singular thing.