Walk to write – The process

Recently I have been taking a workshop from The Well Review called Walk to Write. It comprises weekly exercises and a 5km walk. There’s a lot of thought gone into this, and it also makes me as the walker/writer think more closely about the process of writing. Also, it makes me think about being present.

Our long acre when the alders were smaller

I always do my thinking while I walk, even before we started recording The Calendar Road Podcast back in November 2009. Being immersed in my surroundings has become necessary for me, it is a process. Currently, I am researching and working through a collection of my poems. Many are drawn from memoir, real and imagined. In some cases I have had to fill in the blanks especially when looking back into my family history and to some of the characters that reside there. I find, although I’m searching for poetry here, I often stumble upon prose. When I have written a scene or a thought this way, I will return to it and then find the poem within. An example of that is quoted here;

As a child I struggled with being present and living in the moment. I think it was because for many young years I wasn't aware of myself— maybe children aren't. My imaginary world was in sharp focus then.

But I recall one day I took to running, I can't remember now whether I was running away from something, or someone—but I flew. I pushed myself too far, I went into a sort of exhaustion but I still kept running. I could feel my heart in my ears, my legs shifting in the air, I was so aware of myself, I was running alongside myself. Everything in that moment had a startling quality. The blue sky was blinding me.

I could hear children laughing. Cars slowing down. I was me, and I was here, and I was there. I still kept running, despite myself. I ran all the way home. I didn't stop until my ma opened the door of number 27, her expression matching mine.

I was aged nine. That was the year my Uncle Henry had died, at aged 49. He was my mother's brother, our lovely house guest, who my mother nursed in his final years. I hadn't understood death. But the day I ran the legs off myself, I felt a bit closer to what I thought it might be. Later that evening I overheard my parents talking about me;

Ah she's just like me. My Da said in hushed tones.

For many years after that day I suffered from panic attacks. It's not something many would know about me. I kept it well hidden. But suffering anxiety or as my Da called it Butterflies in the tummy became something that removed me from the beauty of being present in the moment. I was too aware. I didn't realise until quite recently that hyper-awareness is a symptom of anxiety. Thankfully many of the symptoms of anxiety I suffered eased quite suddenly in my early thirties. I can't say how for sure. But I think it was at the same time I was confronted with a health issue, and maybe after all that I began to be able to enjoy living in the moment again. It was such an important thing to retrieve. In so many ways I began to enjoy the minutiae of life, again. I had stopped running.

This will be a poem…

(c) 2021 Sinéad McClure

I do most of my thinking while I walk. Often I come home from a walk and start to write. Sometimes something I saw on the walk sparks a line, or a phrase. Other times I forget it all and it pops back into my head days later. The essence of The Calendar Road was seeing how nature takes a course, as days, weeks and seasons move. Spring is abundant with change. I never tire of it, even if I have seen the first marsh marigold’s yellow flowers for the last twenty Aprils, I will still smile when I see it bloom for the twenty first time.

In other news, this week we planted our second tree for The Calendar Road Tree Project. It’s a red oak for all the people who have touched our lives in a positive way. A reminder that having a network of positivity helps to improve all the moments, good and bad.

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