Why Decide to Write a Book Now?
I had been writing the book for four years, on and off, when I finally decided to get it published. I think it was COVID times that finally pushed me into working with editors and a publisher. There was something about that time – spring 2020 – that inspired me. There was a lot of fear around, the world was changing more rapidly than we’d ever seen and that helped me make the decision. I suppose I thought “life’s too short not to finish this.” When I made the journey, Walk For Aoife, in 2016 I decided to keep a journal each day. As the journey progressed, so did the writing, and after a couple of weeks I found I was writing for a good hour a day after walking between 15 and 30km per day. It started to flow the further I walked and by the end of the walk I decided to try and put it all together. The idea kept developing, because my reasons for writing it became stronger. I realized that I had to share what brought me to making the choice to take on the journey in the first place, to place it within the context of my life. This meant writing about family and childhood experience, adolescence and adulthood, touching on some of the events that shaped my life up until the point where I knew I had to make that journey.
What is the most important lesson or message people will get from it?
I am hoping people will see that it’s a genuine account of a life and how our personal choices and circumstances make us who we are. Some things we are in control of and some are purely circumstantial, but it’s what we do with these circumstances that counts. I hope people will see that things like depression and anxiety can be cultivated over decades but it’s never too late to tackle them. Also, that grief is something we need to feel rather than ‘deal with’ by pushing it away. I hope people will read that being a boy or a man does not mean we have to behave in a certain way, be emotionally closed and ‘handle’ things by holding our heads high and getting tough, which is often the way to repression and sadness, disappointment and a closed mind and heart. Also, that searching is a great thing. I spent many years searching for answers, looking for the next thing to inspire me. But the big lesson I learned was that it is only through getting down and gritty with the reality of situations that I truly learned about myself and the beauty and pain of life. I had to be completely involved in order to heal. I couldn’t do that through reading books or learning, although it all helped give me perspective.
How do You Think Reading This Book Will Help People?
I think we can learn from any experience – be it some rejection or success, a passing moment in the street or a planned journey across countries and seas. Reading a book can bring all sorts of things to people. I wrote this book partly for myself but also partly for the audience. I hope that people will see that I have put my heart and soul into it, that I share difficulties and challenges, perhaps in a way that many people wouldn’t, how a lot of men wouldn’t, and I hope it would encourage people to be more in touch with their feelings and be able to express themselves emotionally, especially in regard to mental health issues. I hope it will encourage people to follow their dreams, because making the choice to do an adventure or a life-changing journey is difficult – but it is so worth it! I hope it will help people to see that holding on to grief and sadness can cause all sorts of problems and it’s always best to talk to people. I encourage people to be outside and appreciate the wonders of this beautiful world we live in and how that too can play a big part in our healing and connection. I hope it will help people to not be afraid of change, both cultural and personal – the world is rapidly changing right now and so many of us don’t know how to help and so we hide. I hope this book helps people to see that facing problems, both personal and global is both our responsibility and a very fulfilling thing to do.
Did Writing This Book Change Your Life in Any Way?
It changed my life in more ways than I could imagine! Because it was about my life, I got a massive chunk of perspective once I wrote it all out – that was the first draft. Once I had ‘exorcised’ the first draft I was on to the second and with each draft I uncovered and confronted my ideas about myself and other people and began to accept a great many things about myself I was previously unable to. It was like a massive journaling project, in a way, layers were stripped back with each draft. I had to look deeply into my experience of my childhood and adult life to separate out my ‘stories’ about things that were not necessarily true, heal old wounds and begin to see life afresh. One could say that writing this book has been very cathartic and has even helped make a man out of me.
Do You See a Follow up to This Book?
My intention was to write this and be done with book writing but I’ve learned so much in the process that it’s likely I’ll continue.
I read somewhere once that the seed of your next project should be contained within the last project. I suppose I will use this logic regarding my next project.
What Lessons Have You Learned so Far in Your Writing?
Keep at it, follow the flow when it’s there. It’s definitely easier when you follow the flow and it takes discipline to write every day when you’re working on a project. This book has given me so much confidence as a writer – and that’s before anyone has even read it! The joy and pain and all of that is within the process – whatever other people think of it is up to them. I’ve also learned that it’s important to write every day when there’s a ‘serious’ project like a book happening. Also, trust what’s coming out of you – even if it doesn’t seem to be making enough sense to you at the time, you will likely find the people who can help you to make sense of it later on. Sometimes it feels easy and sometimes it feels hard – this is how we learn. Don’t let that put you off. Life is like this. Sometimes it feels easy and sometimes it feels hard. This is normal, this is making room for growth and learning.
Advice to Anyone Sitting at Home, Saying I Want to be Like Him and Write a Book?
Don’t bother! Only joking. Start your project. Everyone has different ways of doing things so it might be good for you to tell someone supportive that you want to write, or it might suit you to just get going and not wait for anyone to help you. I would say it’s worth it, all the crafting and shaping and editing. Write as much as you can first, before worrying about what it might look like. Often these things do not arrive fully formed and will need honing later. Just get that stuff out if it’s in there, see what it looks like, get someone you trust to read it and offer help or suggestions. Support is important. Be prepared for it to be sometimes easy and sometimes difficult and when it feels hard remember that this is part of the process, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer or it will never be finished – it’s just part of it!