Writing into courage is a concept that I have conceived over ten years of working with people to write and publish their stories. For many, there is a big leap from writing in a journal, to sharing that with someone close and then putting it out to the big wide world. It takes courage, and this can take time to accumulate.
If sharing our story can be taxing for us, why do it? There are many reasons and I have seen people grow in confidence through the process. It really is like spreading your wings and flying.
In 2018, I walked across Spain on the Camino de Santiago carrying everything that I needed for six weeks. For those six weeks I walked over 800 kilometres and went through a gamut of physical, emotional and spiritual transitions. I also met a lot of people from all over the world doing the same thing (I’m not the only harebrained person). We were all pilgrims looking for something. Some didn’t know what they were looking for, but that question was often answered for them by the time they finished. I certainly didn’t know I was looking for anything, but I sure did get a lot of answers.
The most surprising thing that I noticed about my interactions with other pilgrims was the level of intimacy that was established so quickly after meeting each other. Complete strangers would tell me their deepest desires and secrets. I know it wasn’t about me being receptive to this because others expressed the same experiences. It made me think about why this happens. Was it something about the Camino that allowed people to feel safe? Was there some spiritual force at work?
People were always curious to know more about other people. This curiosity opened up conversations that were beyond the obligatory talk about the weather. On my first day I met a 32-year old German man (how old you are, where you come from and why you’re walking the Camino are opening questions with everyone you meet) who said that he was happily married with a young daughter but felt that something significant was missing from his life. His pain was palpable. I only saw him for a day or two because he was walking faster than me. I hope he found what he was looking for.
The daily inquiry from other people was very revealing. I realised that people wanted to connect with each other and the Camino allowed this to happen at a much faster pace. Not only were they looking for answers for themselves, they wanted to learn about what made others tick: Were they the only one to not feel satisfied with their life? Had they spent their whole life not looking after their body, mind, spirit? So many questions, so many imperfections.
The simple act of embarking on a journey to look for answers, to be curious about life, to want more than they already had was a repeated theme. Talking to a stranger about life somehow allowed for a connection in a safe place. It’s something that we seem to forget in our everyday life, and it made me realise that humanity is capable of love, compassion, generosity and kindness despite the fact that there is so much of the opposite in the world today.
My Camino experience can be likened to writing a book. I embarked on an adventure and wrote about it as I went. When I returned home from Spain, I struggled to articulate what I learned from the experience but writing helped me to process it. I could have left this writing in my journal, just for me to look back on, but I know that by sharing my story it can help others to understand themselves. It’s also a great resource for anyone planning to walk the Camino.
What do I get out of writing the story and sharing it in the wide world?
I process the experience for myself, I help people process things, I open up discussion about travel and life and as a bonus sell some books. Most of all, I leave something behind when I leave this life.
This process gets easier the more you do it. When I first started sharing my writing (ultimately myself) I found it excruciatingly difficult. It made me feel vulnerable. I was worried about judgement. Once I got past these initial fears and received positive feedback from my work, it became easier and continues to do so.
If you’ve been thinking about getting your book published, you can talk to us at Busybird Publishing. We also have a great program running that will help you with the writing and publishing. I’m excited to tell you that we are giving away one of these programs in 2020, simply by entry with a pitch about the idea. You can still enter if you’ve written it. Just go here to find out more.
Also, if you’re interested to read about my Camino journey, it’s out now!