Discover more from Travelling Lines Adventure Squad (Where's Emily?)
Hello again! 🎆
I’m sitting on the floor, leaning against the fireplace - about as close as you can get to hugging a log burner, without getting burnt - waiting for fireworks. Somehow it is nearly winter again. Despite being fed up of winter since March this year, I do love the feeling of autumn. The mist in the mornings. The crispness in the air and the trees turning one by one. And best of all: a boggy, wet, empty moor again.
I’ve got a draft email from me to you for each of the last three months. So this time I’ll piece them all together, actually hit send and give you a well deserved update. But first a quick little announcement:
Calling all 14-18 year olds!
Do you know a 14 to 18 year old who lives in Plymouth, Tamar Valley or the west side of Dartmoor? Do they want to do Ten Tors? I help out as a leader for a walking group called the Dartmoor Plodders and we’re recruiting for this year’s Ten Tors teams. We’ll be entering at least one 35 and 45 mile team this year - get in touch if you’re interested! We are entirely independent of schools and have much more fun for it.
Check out @dartmoorplodders on Instagram for more details.
Usually when I don’t write it’s because I’ve been away in the mountains. This time I’ve been adventuring without leaving the comfort of my home, but more on that in a minute. For now, a quick Q&A:
No, I haven’t been anywhere since getting back from the US. And I won’t be going anywhere until the new year.
Yes, I will be writing tales from the US on the blog soon. I was waiting on some photos from a fellow hiker and those arrived last week. Perhaps we can make the inevitable 4+ part series into cosy Christmas reading.
The only exception to the no-trips until 2024 rule is that I might be at Kendal Mountain Festival for a few days before the Sidetracked Magazine team meet up and AGM. Are you going? I’d especially love to chat to other authors or people in the process of writing their books too.
What I’m Writing Now
Speaking of writing, I realise I’ve been so busy ping-ponging around the world recently, that I’ve barely announced what I’m even working on. There have been a few blog posts recently, most gear reviews to repay kit I took to the US, and a bit of other work (e.g. my first of four pieces for the OMM). But my main focus is books, specifically:
My children’s fantasy novel. We all know this by now… 😅
A Guidebook for Cicerone about climbing the highest mountain in Morocco. (Climbing Toubkal)
I submitted a non-fiction book proposal for the Nan Shepherd Prize
Currently brewing: I will be writing another non-fiction narrative story about my hike in California.
The fantasy: I’m on the final draft (yes, still) but I’m one chapter from the finish line. So nearly there! I’ve made it past the crux and can merrily weave in all the ends, rolling downhill to the finish. Delightful and so exciting. The next step is to type it all up (mostly there already) and do a proof read and give it to my first reader to see what she thinks.
The guidebook came as something of a surprise. I have huge respect for the Cicerone brand and have used their books probably most of my life. I got in touch about rewriting the very outdated Dartmoor guidebook in 2020 and that email has developed into me writing a Climbing Toubkal guide. I’ve signed the contract so I figure it’s fair game to talk about it! I’ll be going back to Morocco next year to do the Toubkal Circuit trekking route (if anyone knows any good providers or guides, do get in touch).
The Nan Shepherd proposal was another surprise - as much to me as anyone. I heard about the prize just before heading off to the US. And at a time when I was supposed to not be thinking about Dartmoor, this book simply fell out of me. Instead of writing about the prospect of finally going to the States, I spent my flight creating chapter outlines and splurging out the middle of Chapter 5. It’s all about wild camping in the UK and the right to sleep on the floor (think The Book of Trespass but for sleeping on the floor). I now know that I didn’t get long listed for the prize, so it’ll probably take a back seat, but I’ve never made such a complete non-fiction book proposal before. So if nothing else it was a very good experience. And very revealing for myself that there is clearly something here, in camping and the story of my 2021-2022, that I desperately need to write about.
Finally, I can hardly call it writing at this stage, but I will be writing a book about my John Muir Trail experience as a long-lost American. But I mention it because all my real life adventure stories start at this stage: a scrappy journal of details, description and dialogue from the trail. No writing is being done, but I’m playing with the plot points in my head and, most importantly, trying to work out what the ending is exactly. The weird part being that, because this is non-fiction, I may not have actually lived through the ending yet…
The next stage will be to get some blog posts written (the active, external arc) and then I’ll start working on the beats of the emotional arc. Once I’ve worked out exactly what it is myself. It’s all a bit meta writing about your own life experiences while you’re still sort of living them.
Other than that, I’ve been busily editing Volume 28 of Sidetracked Magazine. (It’s now out in the world if you’d care to peruse.) Like I say I have done several gear related blog posts, but I’ve drafting out a few from questions/requests from others: how to choose insulated jackets for Matthew, what I take for food on multi-week expeditions for Tom, a fuller story of my first mountain marathon for Katie. I love blogging this way, so if you have a question or request, do hit reply and say hi!
Otherwise, the bulk of what I’ve been working on is middle grade fantasy, splitting my time between working a minimum wage job to cover the mortgage and daydreaming away on distant adventures with a pencil in hand. Of that sounds surprising or drastic, I’d encourage you to read this post for the full update on why I’ve temporarily exchanged travel journalism for working in a shop.
It has been incredibly liberating so far, making me realise that since university I’ve been compulsively working every hour of the day and not necessarily even on anything important. The simplicity of lifestyle (no frantic packing, almost no travelling, no pitching, no ridiculous deadlines, no chasing invoices) and the impossibility of taking any work home with me has been a revelation. Which sounds silly to say, but I have been working remotely for 6 years now. It’s such a welcome break. Yes on paper it looks like I’m going dramatically backwards. Yes I probably should have done this straight out of uni. But we travel by winding paths and at least I am doing it now, not never. (If you have a dream you’ve been putting off forever, do read that linked post.)
Anyway, it’s nearly time for fireworks, so here’s a picture of a basket I made on a beginner’s basketry course the other week. Yeah it’s more like a tray, but it was only a few hours and that’s the best weaving I’ve done to date!