Having now finished the book, I feel like I’ve completed the walk. I didn’t realise, but I needed to write the book to make sense of what I’d done.
I didn’t set out to write a book when I started the Camino. The thought never crossed my mind. And even during the walk it was never a consideration. I was too focused on getting through each day.
It was only later, after Jennifer and I spent some time in Portugal, that we began to talk about it. Jennifer was quite adamant that I should write the book, and do it immediately – while everything was still fresh in my mind.
When I returned home I began to equivocate. Whilst I’d been working on a novel for some time, I’d never written non-fiction. My screenplay writing has all been drama, principally thrillers but a couple of comedies.
And writing a screenplay is a completely different craft to writing a book. It’s as different as playing golf to playing cricket.
It was an intimidating prospect, made more so because I’d seen what my daughter had gone through when she wrote her memoir, Only in Spain – which took her four years to write. (It’s been released in Australia and will be released in North America pre-summer.)
It was daunting. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was a bad idea. These books don’t make money, and I’m judged by everything I put my name to. If I did it, it would have to be good – not something just dashed off, riffing off of my blog.
It had to be a stand-alone piece of original writing.
And that takes time – time I could better spend writing a new screenplay, which is my core business. So I decided not to go ahead with it. It would be too hard, and take too long.
But then I had that dream – such a vivid and disturbing dream. Of being in the Santiago Cathedral with a rifle, and shooting out the huge stained glass window. I woke up, distressed, and looked at the clock. It was 3:33am.
That was it. That was the kicker. I knew at that moment I had to write the book. I’d been directed to write the book, and I had to get on with it. There was no question about it.
I started that day.
As some of you might know from this blog, I wrote fast but I worked long hours. I didn’t stop for weekends. I just kept writing. I would start at 4:30am or 5am and write until 6pm. Some days I wrote 4,000 words, which is a lot. It seemed I never wrote any less than 2,000 words a day, which compared to the pace of my writing for my novel, was twice as fast.
It flowed. I didn’t have to think about it. And when I got to the end, at about 90,000 words, I then began the revisions. And then Jennifer came on board for the editing.
I chose to write in a light tone, because I think for me that’s the best way to tackle weighty issues. There are some Camino books out there that are light, but never scratch beneath the surface. They’re flip, superficial, and some of them are glib.
This is a pilgrimage, and it has to be respected as such, and whilst I’ve taken a humorous approach to some of it, at no time have I lost that deep abiding respect for the Camino, and what it stands for.
It is a memoir of a spiritual journey.
And now it’s done. And it occurred to me that the book has finally completed the walk for me. When I reached Santiago, I felt no sense of achievement. I was confused. Anyone who’s read the book will know that I didn’t actually even want to walk into the square. I stayed in a bar and had a beer, reluctant to walk the last kilometre to the Cathedral.
This is why I had to write the book – to understand the significance of the pilgrimage. And of what I’d done. I feel now with its publication that it’s put a full stop on my Camino Frances, April/May 2013. I’ve finally finished my walk.
If you want to buy the book, you can do so here:
If you want a free copy, the offer is open until the end of the week. Email me at email@example.com. All I ask is that you respect the IP, and you write a review. But only if you love it!!