Why Am I Writing ‘Blakes Road’
Blakes Road, the book I am writing, is the story of a walk I took last year from England’s south coast to London. Specifically from Felpham, near Bognor Regis in West Sussex, to Bunhill Fields, a cemetery in Islington. The distance was something around 70 miles, and it took four days walk, meaning the book is divided into four chapters.
It’s not the longest walk I have ever made (which was along the River Thames, about 200 miles), but it’s still a hell of a journey. So why? The reason is manifold, and some of it I can’t tell you because it would spoil the book. Some of it I can though.
The headline act is William Blake. In one sense the walk was a dot-joining exercise. Blake once lived in Felpham, and he is buried in Islington. In this sense the walk was a kind of pilgrimage, which is something I have always wanted to do, despite being a member of no religion. I wanted to know what the personal, emotional effect of a pilgrimage would have on me, and Blake was the obvious choice. I got to know both him and myself better on the road.
In another sense, it was an investigation of England. I wanted to see new places, and in a new light. My route went through Crawley, and whilst I have often seen Crawley from the train, I have never stopped there, and even if I had, entering it on foot at the end of a long day’s march is different than turning up on a train. Even supposedly dull places like Crawley become interesting when part of a longer thread.
In a third sense, it was a internal ramble. A monologue on my own state of mind, and an investigation into how it could be affected and altered by the profound experience of a lengthy pilgrimage.
There are other senses too, one in particular. But I can’t tell you about that, it would straight-out spoil the surprise. Every book needs an element of mystery. I’ll say simply this: if you live in the 21st century, you could really benefit by taking a quick trip back to the 18th with Blake and I. Truly. But you’ll have to wait until it’s finished.
Finishing, that’s why I’m writing this post. The end is nigh! I am aiming to have completed it by the end of February. It has taken a long time, day one of the walk was October 29 2009. The wait is worthwhile, the feedback from my editors has been overwhelmingly positive, and they haven’t even uncovered the mystery yet.
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