Why Did I Write These Books

The first of November will be the fourth anniversary of the publishing of The Slacker Pilgrim Guide. How did four years go by? It seemed liked not so long ago when I walked into Santiago de Compostella on a cloudy morning. I had no lodging booked. I just knew I had done what I set out to do, and I was so happy that I had done it. And the next day, I walked out of Santiago to go to Finisterra.

In my Osprey pack, I also had a notebook filled with notes and ramblings that I hoped to make into a book. The journey from notebook to ebook was as long as the Camino. I had to learn a whole new form and new way of writing. I also would discover a whole new way of connecting with the world. . .but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Recently the question of why I write these walking books was posed to me. I’m not completely sure why I write these books. I just do. Maybe if I talk about how I write the books, the why will become evident to me.

The Slacker Pilgrim Guide began simply. I was walking the Camino and thought, what if I wrote a book about the Camino. What if I wrote about all the little details—like Ladies Rooms and Café Con Leche. Instead of talking about the life changing epiphanies, what if I talked about the human and the humorous.

In 2012, the Camino was becoming more popular because of the film, The Way, and thanks to ebooks and the internet, one could learn about it. I knew that I had to get my book out quickly because the information in it was timely. I learned about ebooks and how to put a book up on Amazon.

The Camino had given me a certain courage to just put the book out there, but as a failed playwright, I was prepared for silence. I was prepared for only friends reading it. I was not prepared for the book to spread far and wide and for the book to connect me with so many people I had never met.

I became a Camino cheerleader. You can do it. Yes, you can do it. Sure, it’s gonna hurt. Sure, it might get uncomfortable. Go for it. I had never been a cheerleader. Cheerleaders did not appeal to my absurdist view of things, but I do know that a positive voice is what you need when you’re about to do something that might be a little crazy.

Through these books I have connected with folks. My story and my perspective have led me to hearing other stories and other perspectives. There was an exchange.

So why did I write the walking book and why do I continue to write walking books? At first, it was just an idea I had. But it was an idea that has developed into something larger. It is an idea that goes around the world and back again. It’s an idea that leads to connection and community. It’s an idea that makes me a better human.

I am not a super hiker. I am not a superior human being. I am just a person. I have faults. I get angry and upset and worried and scared like everyone else. But I have had moments when I see the good in myself and the world. I can walk for long distances (with cafes along the way) and everything starts to look good.

I like that you can go to a country and walk through it. I live in a country that is huge, and there are parts where that is difficult to do. I like seeing a place one step at a time. I like the slowness of a walking pace. I like it when I get a beautiful view after a little bit of work. All I had to do was start.

Dream Walks1

Writing Voice Map Walking Tours


Back in 2012, I realized there were three things I wanted to do with my life (besides the usual practice of eating, sleeping, and being kind to people and animals). Those three things were write, walk, and sail, and I set out to do them as often as possible.

Since 2012, I have found ways to spend most of my time writing, walking, or saiing, and I discovered that the three activities feed each other. I write about walking and sailing. When I walk, I develop the mental endurance to help me write and sail. When I sail, I develop the patience to help me write and walk.

So I was happily going along and singing my song when I received an email from VoiceMap. Would I be interested in writing walking tours for their app? It sounded fun, so I said yes.

VoiceMap uses GPS technology to take the walker on a set route in a particular place. You start at the starting point, and I tell you all about it. Then I tell you how to get to the next spot which will trigger the next bit of audio and so on along the route.

VoiceMap also encourages its tour writers to be creative, tell stories, show people our own corners of the world. When friends and family visited Los Angeles, I would play tour guide and show them around. I liked learning a few key facts about a place and pointing out the sights along the way.

Writing the VoiceMap tours, I imagined the listener as my friend, and that freed me up to be random and tell jokes. If I didn’t like a particular statue, I could say that. If we passed my favorite coffee shop, I could recommend it.

VoiceMap’s editors encouraged to bring myself into the tour. After all, I was the one speaking on the audio tracks, and they continued to support me in the recording process. Coming out of a theatre background, I knew I had to become an actor playing myself. Not so easy. I never liked the sound of my own recorded voice. But I relaxed, took a deep breath, and started to speak.

Once the audio was added to the tour, I had to test the tour to make sure the GPS points matched the audio. Yes, I had to listen to my own voice, but I removed myself from the listening. I became analytical without being overly critical. And I got to walk around some of my favorite spots in LA one more time.

As of right now, I have four walking tours on VoiceMap: Culver City, Marina del Rey, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica Pier. I hope any potential walker has as much fun walking them as I had putting them together.


If you’re interested in writing your own VoiceMap tour, you can go here.

If you’re interested in finding out which VoiceMap tours are near you, go to this spot.

Keep walking, my friends.