I’m currently reading the book Tracks, originally written in 1980 by Robyn Davidson. I picked it up on my last day in New Zealand, the day after I watched the major motion picture in a downtown Nelson theater. Essentially, the story is about a twenty-something woman’s journey that travels 1,700 miles across the Australian Outback. But it is so much more than that. What I will say, is that the movie was beyond incredible; the book profound. Why I found this story to be so moving, is because I find myself relating to this woman on an almost incomprehensible level. During the film, I laughed and cried, tearing up on three separate occasions not just because it was a beautiful picture and a heart-felt story, but because I have stood in similar shoes. I have felt what she felt. I have seen my own challenges, discovered my own moments of ecstasy, battled with doubts and triumphed with joy. I felt like she and I were one, except our journeys were vastly different. Mine doesn’t include camels or walking thousands of miles across a desert. It does include, as you know, walking thousands of miles.
And there, beside me in the theater, was my friend Annelie. We had hiked two days together in the north island and most recently had spent two weeks and almost all hours side-by-side as we traveled the coasts of New Zealand, and all the mountains and wineries in between. She had gotten to know me. Very well in fact. And as she watched the film, tearing up just as often as me, and as she would later tell me, she would often think, “Wow, that’s so Mary.” And indeed it was.
Now I’m reading the book, falling in love with the author. Her honesty is addictive. And her stories have become a sort of reflective parallel to my own. I often speak the words out loud, just to engage farther into the character, farther into this woman’s journey. And I can only hope for my own story to become published, despite how nerve-racking it may be.
I had sent away Married to the Trail in December, to Mountaineers Books, a publisher I find inspiring as well as “the right fit.” Months went by while I eagerly anticipated a response. I kept hiking. Kilometers went by. Beaches and bush and mountain tops became a thing of the past. They had mentioned it could take three months to hear a decision. I hoped to hear earlier, a sort of late-Christmas present. But no. And then, hoping on a birthday surprise in late february, I was once again let down by my email’s inbox. And then, nothing in march, nothing in april. Four months come and gone.
The night I arrived in Portland, nearly back home in the Pacific Northwest, I checked my email. An intern from Mountaineers Books had been trying to get in touch with me, but for some reason, be it a technological flaw or my own error, I had never received it. And the news: They want the full manuscript!
Now, that’s not to say they will publish it, but at least it has them interested. And that’s plenty good news for this first time writer. If MB decides to publish Married to the Trail, then great. If not, well, I have J. K. Rowling to think of. It took the author of Harry Potter HEAPS of publishers of saying NO to finally get noticed. So, whatever happens, happens. But there’s one thing for certain: I’m not giving up. I didn’t give up on the story when I was out there hiking it with my own blood, sweat and tears. So, as you can imagine, there’s no way I’m throwing in the story now.