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Writing "Going it Alone"

Writing Going it Alone: Ramblings and Reflections from the Trail was a unique experience in comparison to my other books. It is certainly the most personal writing I’ve put out into the world, which was both freeing and enlightening. It was also unnerving and a bit frightening. It’s one thing if someone doesn’t like your guide to the Tahoe Rim Trail, perhaps that is just your style of writing, or they looked at the trail differently then you, but with this book I was telling my raw story, and I’m certainly no extreme sports athlete worthy of adoration. Would people see themselves in the story or wonder how in the hell this guy wrote guidebooks?

The writing of Going it Alone began with me sitting alone in a tent or on a piece of granite somewhere on a hiking trail and writing in a journal. Often I was feeling pangs of loneliness when I was scribbling away, wishing I had a computer since with just a pen I couldn’t catch up to my brain. I would be whining a bit in my journal about what was not going right, but also making fun of whatever bizarre or funny thing happened, and of course going goo goo ga ga over the startling and inspiring beauty of the natural surroundings I’d been walking through.

When I got home I would write and revise what I’d pecked onto paper, and then it would join some other hikes I’d journaled about over the years in the deepest recesses of my computer. Sure, I had thoughts that these journals would eventually turn into a book, but realistically this would happen about the time I got around to dusting my office or cleaning out the cobwebs in the basement. You know…never.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t writing. I was just writing articles about Tahoe things: the housing crisis, the litter crisis, the wildfire crisis, and lots of stories about hiking, biking, paddling or skiing in Tahoe. These were short and easier (writing is never easy) than the ponderous task of a book, and people would send me a small amount of money in exchange for words.

Then in 2020 COVID hit and all of that freelance writing came to a screeching halt as we hunkered down in our homes and people stopped buying magazines. Since I was sitting alone much of the time not doing much, finishing that dang book about being alone in the woods seemed to be a good place for me to spend my time.

I spent the next year slowly plowing through revision after revision, which was both fun and excruciatingly painful. You know, writing. The writing was made a bit easier because much of the time it was happening in my backyard with the wind blowing through the trees and birds and squirrels chirping around me.

A writing friend started a zoom writers group that enabled me to run sections by some colleagues, and they helped me to realize that the story was in the conflict between wanting to be in the wilderness and getting lonely once I got there. And they also told me to keep the humor in, so I worked on that portion as well. The best form of humor is making fun of yourself, which I’ve always enjoyed doing. And I have plenty of material as there are always Stupid Tim Tricks happening.

Finally, the book I then called “Solo” was ready to submit to University of Nevada Press, where it underwent several more grueling rounds of editing before it eventually ended up hopefully in your hands. Along the way some superhuman rock climber absconded with the title Solo for his movie, but perhaps Going it Alone is more appropriate. I hope you enjoy the book!

Speaking of writing…enjoy this vignette from my friend Michael Branch who was doing a series of book signing events in Las Vegas for his book, “On the trail of the Jackalope.”

“Last night on the Las Vegas strip I was approached by a woman wearing a black leather bikini, stiletto heels, and carrying a riding crop. This is Vegas, so that part wasn’t weird. But what happened next was noteworthy. “Have you been behaving yourself?” she asked, slapping the tasseled head of the crop in her open palm. “Well, I’m a writer on a book tour,” I replied. “A writer?” she said. “Then you’ve been punished enough already.” With that insightful comment she strutted off into the crowd.

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