September 3, 2015. Waking up in my own room in Deba was luxurious, and it gives me a chance to do some writing before I move to the next stage of the journey. As I have walked during the past two days, I notice my thoughts have stayed with a theme or two . . . for whom am I walking , and for whom am I writing?
When I began this website very early in 2012, 18 months before I started the Camino Frances in September 2013, it was for me and I didn’t give much thought to readers. I’ve been keeping a journal since I was a little girl, and I couldn’t imagine taking on such a venture as a walk across Spain without writing down my preparations, thoughts, fears, whatever from the moment I made the decision to do this thing. Yes, I thought about the possibility of a book eventually, and with all the book ideas I’ve had over the past 25 years, perhaps one day I’ll be the oldest living “first book” female in the annals of history, but one step at a time, both literally and figuratively . . . Write for me, walk for me, and see what happens.
My daughter signed on to follow and so did one of my sisters. That made sense because Ashley had written her way across the southern hemisphere with her husband during that same time period, and my youngest sister had been a “blogger” for several years. Everything from the Houston Zoo site to one giving us great suggestions for unique Christmas gifts. Then a friend or two here or there added their e-mail addresses to the “follow” list, as well as my other sister, and one by one, I had about a dozen followers. As the date of my departure in 2013 drew closer, my sons added themselves to the list, as did some writing students, and a variety of other well-wishers. But I was writing for myself, as I have always done. I noticed one day that the number of followers had risen to over 350. How did that happen? I’m not sure, but the internet does strange things without anyone even noticing. People are interested in the kind of adventure I’m taking, just as I was interested when I saw Emilio Estevez’ movie The Way, written with his father, Martin Sheen, in mind. I saw the film and immediately decided I would walk the Camino Frances. And I did.
At this point, I see by WordPress’ stats that I have over 700 followers, and this “audience” factor is both an encouraging thing and a daunting one, once I posed the question to myself: To whom am I writing?
Yes, I do know these followers want to . . . well, follow. They are supportive, appreciative, loving and non-judgmental. This last is important, since I have plenty of judgment so surround myself sometimes. And I also know that writing my journey is very important to me. After all, surprisingly enough, I used the material from the last Camino, reshaped and added to, edited and cut down, to finish a Master’s Thesis attempt I’d been struggling with for more than a dozen years. The writing I had done before, during and after my first Camino was useful to me in personal and professional ways. And as a great side benefit, those followers seemed to really enjoy what I wrote. For some, reading was a caring gesture. For others, it was an energizing factor in making their own decision to walk the Camino. And I’m sure there are dozens or hundreds of other reasons why a person would follow someone they don’t know, or even someone they DO know, watching a life’s adventure unfold.
I have MOO cards, printed with one of my scenic photos on the front and my information on the back, including the address for this website. I invite people to read my words, every time I hand someone a card.
Yes, my posts were true, descriptive, and reflective. Whatever showed up on the page was a valid representation of my days at any given moment. That is still true. No, I never thought of just bagging it. Yes, it was hard at first, and yes, it got easier and I got stronger. All those things were what I expected on this route.
But it doesn’t just move along slickly, with my last walk’s patterns in some tissue-paper overlay for this one. Beautiful coastal walks, very hot days, more difficult pathways than I expected, a couple of early tumbles, and now the wretched and arriving-way-too-early bronchial plague I’m famous for. Now. Though my body has recovered from the falling jolts, it is now fighting the blows to the midsection every time I cough. Time will heal this, and nothing else.
My step-by-step musing has come to this. I will walk for me. I will write for me. I will stop or go on, by foot or by bus, as I need to. And with every step, I’ll smell the smells, hear the sounds, see the sights, feel my feet as I struggle up and down the hills and mud, give thanks for sunny days with not too much heat, for coastal views and fairly manageable walkways.
And I will definitely know many people are with me in spirit. You’ll continue to take what I write and I’ll continue to write what shows up from my heart and head through my fingers. And no matter what, I will have a buen Camino.