On Halloween night, I went to go see a play outdoors in City Park’s Besthoff Sculpture Garden. It was “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” put on by local theater company, The NOLA Project. (Check it out — there are still five more performances left!)
It was a coooooooooooooooold night to be sitting outside, but the play was fun, with no less than five light-hearted beheadings. I’d recommend getting there early (which — if you know me — is ironic advice), because when we were able to move our seats closer to the front in Act 2, it was much easier to hear.
And I’m glad I could hear, because a line from that second act has stuck with me. It was spoken by lead actor, Keith Claverie…who was playing an actor…who was playing Washington Irving…who was — later on — playing a man making a deal with the devil. (No big deal, just your standard play within a play within a play.)
He was talking to another character about what makes a good story, and he said, “Every character has to be motivated by something they’re willing to split the world in two for.”
I’ve been thinking about the Appalachian Trail book a lot lately. I’m writing a lot of other things, but — as far as the book goes — I’m stuck. So, this weekend, I’ve been thinking about that line from the play, and I think it might help unstick me.
What is the thing I am willing to split the world in two for? In other words, why did I leave my relatively comfortable life to go walk over mountains from Georgia to Maine?
In an article I wrote for Mid-City Messenger before I left for the hike, I wrote about being dumped, and being distraught about it. I wrote about needing to find my “10 out of 10s,” meaning the things that made me most happy; the things that were mine, alone, to treasure; the things that wouldn’t end just because a relationship ended.
Check it out. I think it’s a pretty good intro article, and I think that’s a pretty good reason to go on a hike.
But it wasn’t actually my reason.
It’s not like I lied intentionally. But I think the most rewarding part about writing — whether it’s for a book or just a private journal — is if you do it honestly (which is hard), you’ll learn a lot of things you didn’t realize you didn’t know.
And it took me a long time to get some clarity on my reason.
So, if my reason at the beginning wasn’t to find 10s, then what was it?
Well, I think it changed over time, and THAT transformation — though it took me two years to finally figure out — is what the book is about. I’ll write more about that transformation tomorrow, so — if you’re interested — swing back on by, and follow me via my newsletter or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.