Lometa introduced me to the Walking Man project recently and
I'm still sorting out my impressions of it. Collaborative writing efforts have always
fascinated me, probably a holdover from my hippie commune
days, and stumbling onto one at E2 was a pleasant surprise.
The Walking Man Project is a series of interwoven stories chronicling
the peripatetic travels of the mysterious walking man. The project was
begun in 1994 by Jack Graham, an author who has since vanished without a
trace. The original Walking Man series is rumored to have contained 14
episodes, however all but the first have been lost. The series was revived
at E2 through the efforts of The Custodian and alex in January of 2001
and has since attracted a variety of contributions from E2 writers.
I read the stories straight through recently and was delighted
by some and disappointed by others. The quality of the writing and the
author's approach to the format and structure varies widely and perhaps that's
both the greatest strength and inherent weakness of the project.
I read the series through again, from start to end, focusing on
what might be learned from it as a pedagogical tool and found that approach to
be quite rewarding. Comparing and contrasting what works and what doesn't
yields some interesting lessons for the aspiring author. This isn't the
place for a discussion of those insights, but the exercise convinced me that the
Walking Man Project is a valuable piece of work, and motivated me to make a
contribution to help maintain it at E2.
Towards that end, I'd like to offer the
following Annotated Index of the Walking Man Project in the hopes:
That those who haven't yet read Walking Man, will be inspired
to do so,
That it will allow those who want to contribute to it to
better discern its essence,
That those readers who have enjoyed it already will be able
to more easily revisit and enjoy their favorite chapters,
That more of E2's aspiring fiction writers will contribute
their unique style and flavor to the series.
The index below provides easy access to the entire Walking Man
series at E2. The Walking Man series has evolved continuously since 1994
through the contribution of dozens of authors from all around the
The Index is arranged by date and comprises 30 chapters as of
September 2003. I'll periodically update the Index as additional
chapters are added to the series.
I owe a special thanks to Those Bones for an
early and unqualified vote of confidence in this project.
Node Date Tue Jan 16 2001 at 7:15:10
Stats: 31 ¶, 101 s,
2335 w, 13427 c
Chapter Notes: Courtesy of The Custodian
I'll be honest; I introduced TWM to E2 mostly because I had this story I'd written about him for the original, I'd tweaked it a few times, I really liked it, and it wanted somewhere to live. I was also, of course, curious to see what the varied and sundry excellent writers of this here place could do with him if they put their minds and pens to it.
The first installment is somewhat sci-fi deliberately; it is also deliberately vague. It is intended to offer a picture of the kinds of stretch that the Walking Man can absorb. It also emphasizes TWM as an observer, a point of view rather than a character (much less protagonist). I find, looking over some of the notes, that this rubs some others the wrong way, and that they have embarked on a bit of a drive to refocus the tales on him.
That's fine; he has already served his purpose as a device to encourage submission. TWM is, in my mind, a hollow or mirror; he's a phantom audience to whom a writer can show a tale and offer us their own preferred reaction in case we care. He's also, of course, available to morph into a character, main or otherwise; and watching what's happening to him is as entertaining.
Node Date Sat Feb 10 2001 at 6:18:36
Stats: 5 ¶, 27 s,
522 w, 2622 c
The Walking Man in the midwest through the eyes of a local
ranch hand. The walking man is living in a cheap hotel and waiting, for
I had not written on e2 very long when this project arrived. When I thought
of the title two things entered my mind-- the song-Walking man, by James
Taylor and the evil, satanic character from Stephen King's The
Stand. My short piece is based in and around that idea- an ambiguous stranger
with a sense of menace. As I read the various chapters that followed I am
impressed with both the skill of the writers and the wonderful variety of the
mosaic. Not unlike e2 itself. I am pleased to be associated with this
Node Date Wed Apr 04 2001 at 3:21:21
Stats: 15 ¶, 36 s,
510 w, 2786 c
The walking man meets the last pioneer in the middle of
Chapter Notes: Courtesy of dannye
I've enjoyed doing some collaborative writing projects here on E2. It's been some of the best fun I've had with users like Ideath (my virgin experience at it all), ToasterLeavings, Lord Brawl, MoJoe, and others. But I always tried to pick my partners, like you are able to do at a dance which isn't even scheduled until you make that first effort to put some words on a page. The thought of doing a collaborative writing project with a whole bunch of folks seemed absurd to me. It's anarchy, baby. And you probably know how I feel about all that. So why would I let myself get dragged into a red-diaper doper-baby MayDay Communistic roundup like this Walking Man deal? It's simple, really.
When I first saw it, it was up to Number 7 or 8. I can't remember exactly, but I do remember that Number 3 sucked a camel's booty-hole. It was some of the worst crap I'd ever seen written here. I won't say who wrote it, mostly because I can't remember. But, take my word for it, it was awful. Awful. So I killed it. I was a young admin. here at the time and it came easily to me to hit that "delete" button. It just sorta slid out of my right pinky and "Kablooey," Walking Man Number 3 was as dead as the rug on Ted Koppel's head.
Immediately after Number 3 hit the recycle bin, a startling revelation smacked me upside the back of my own hairless head. "Jesus, dannye, you just broke the fucking chain!" Now, I was either going to have to recruit someone to replace Number 3 (real quick, before anyone noticed what I'd done) or write it myself. I remember trying to turn panic into creative energy, and that is how Walking Man Number 3 came about. My aunt was bedridden with Alzheimer's Disease and my mom was her sole caretaker at the time, and that was the spark that set the story off. Other than that spark, it's all fiction and it's not very good fiction, but I do like the image of the inverted clouds and it does beat the shit out of what was there before. You'll have to take my word for that last one.
Node Date Sat Feb 24 2001 at 7:19:15
Stats: 13 ¶,
16 s, 305 w,
The walking man is a messenger who shows us that
there's a reason to keep going.
Chapter Notes Courtesy of Demeter
Walking Man 4 followed on from the original 3, but fits as smoothly
after dannye’s version - more so, in fact as dannye gives the protagnist
something of the mythic quality I wanted to look at.
The idea was to explore, to a small extent, anyway, how myths are made.
Here's the Walking Man; he's travelled a long way by now, and people are
going to start talking. This guy he’s different. He's not doing what
everyone else is -- what does it mean? What is he, hero-messiah,
destruction-demon, or just a lunatic?
So, they talk, question, draw conclusions - but always their own.
They choose, on the whole, to make him a hero. Nobody asks our man any
more than anyone asked Christ if he was the son of God, until Pilate:
because they are more comfortable with their own fictitious answers than they
might be with an unpalatable truth.
Node Date Wed Mar 14 2001 at 6:06:48
Stats: 8 ¶,
17 s, 283 w,
No one understands the joy of a giggling child,
except the walking man.
Node Date Wed
Mar 14 2001
Stats: 3 ¶, 26 s, 326 w, 1835 c
Plot Synopsis courtesy of Lometa
The Walking Man passes through a bleak and desolate
African village populated with poor people. While he is there he is approached
by a meager boy and decides to give him something strange in return for
Node Date Mon Apr 02 2001 at 18:00:04
Stats: 16 ¶,
95 s, 1521 w,
The Walking Man is surprised at finding a lake in his path
and a mild mannered man is compelled to tell us a fish story.
Node Date Wed Apr 04 2001 at 4:23:58
Stats: 8 ¶,
19 s, 278 w,
The Walking Man encounters a voluptuous young gawdette with
a ponytail, cornflower blue eyes, and a sweet voice. She offers him
companionship and a wave of visceral arousal threatens his mission, but the
Walking Man keeps walking.
Chapter Notes Courtesy of Aphrodite
This vignette was written primarily to introduce a random
character into TWM. I hoped to provide a pivotal element for a later story that
I was too lazy to write, an aim in which I failed miserably; I confess, that
disappointed me. As it stands I think (hope) it works on a metaphorical level,
even so, giving form to some dreams and dreads for TWM.
Node Date Wed Apr 04 2001 at 4:36:39
Stats: 11 ¶,
33 s, 603 w,
We seen the walking man an we ast him a question an he give
us an answer. It were a good call, and dat's dat.
Node Date Fri Apr 06 2001 at 70345
Stats 8 ¶, 26 s, 339 w, 2003 c
Plot Synopsis Courtesy of momomom
The Walking Man slows to a stroll. He stops to smell the flowers with a
local mutt then picks up his stride and moves on.
Chapter Notes: Courtesy of Lord Brawl
In WM10 I returned to an old idea - familiarity with everyday things.
Small things that you'd see on a neighbourhood walk: cracks on the sidewalk, trees, and cats. I wanted to eschew plot in favour of a hopefully vivid scene with sights, sounds, and smells. I wanted to use the Walking Man as observer, neither acting nor acted upon. I needed a "local guide" for him, and the then-de rigeur thumping that opened each scene suggested the wagging tail of a small dog. In retrospect, it may be a bit too short, but it captures the mood.
I like the idea of the Walking Man as a guide. He may be a catalyst or an observer, and he may change over time, but his role is to let us walk to new places with him.
Node Date Fri Apr 06 2001
Stats: 9 , 19 s, 259 w, 1551 c
Plot Synopsis Courtesy of Lometa
The readers learn a little more about the Walking Man's past. His wife has left and his
daughter has become estranged. He reflects on one more blow, the loss of a job after many
years of loyalty.
Chapter Notes Courtesy of Demeter
I wrote this episode purely and simply because I was confused.
The project didn’t seem to be heading anywhere in particular and, more importantly, there was a lack of cohesion to the whole that made me feel uncomfortable. Individual episodes were very well written, but they all described unconnected events the Walking Man had even switched continents for a while, characters had disappeared without explanation and we knew absolutely NOTHING about our man. I liked the idea of the project but was quickly ceasing to care about the actuality, especially the character himself I was finding him null, he’d started to become nothing but myth. I’d read The Custodian’s introduction, and understood it to an extent, but I felt without some kind of personality to our protagonist the connecting thread just didn’t connect.
So I wrote him an ordinary little backstory, just to give him somewhere to come from, and some kind of reason to be walking.
Node Date Sat Apr 07 2001 at 7:35:11
Stats: 23 ¶, 75 s,
1045 w, 5929 c
The thunderheads chuckle to each other as the Walking Man slogs through
the mud against a raging wind. Not surprisingly, his feet hurt.
Chapter Notes: Courtesy of Rancid_Pickle
I read Walking Man 11 just after Demeter hit the sumbit button. I
thought it was an interesting concept, and spent some time reading the
previous entries. I could see that Demeter wanted to refocus on the Walking
Man, so I came up with a story that made him more human and less of a
mythical entity. It is difficult for many folks to associate themselves and
empathize with a character if they don't find some common thread that connects
I was unsure if the Walking Man could actually stop and sit down somewhere,
so I made it happen in a little diner surrounded by nothingness. Since he was
a drifter, I was sure that the soured milk of human kindness had scalded
him on many an occasion, and I wanted to give him a reminder that not all is
dark in the midst of a storm.
Node Date Sun Apr 08 2001 at 22:35:54
Stats: 20 ¶,
38 s, 493 w,
Sky and sand and aching feet, the Walking Man is lost. His
resolve momentarily wavers, but then is strengthened by the flight of a silver
Node Date Tue Apr 17 2001 at 2:07:47
Stats: 9 ¶,
61 s, 769 w,
The Walking Man is severely chastised by a child for the
cowardice of his constant stride.
Chapter Notes: Courtesy of Roninspoon
It was my intent to provide, not only some character development by implying
some history, but also to provide us with a view through the Walking Man's
eye's. It's evident that version of reality is warped, severely, from the norm.
He feels responsible for some action that he has taken in the past, and it is
this that drives him. It's really a very similar theme to what I tried to
explore in The responsibility of fate, the idea that a tortured mind can
imprison a mind in hallucination for what he thinks he may have done. God only
knows what this says about my own fragile psychology. Additionally, I was
influenced by a film I saw as a child, of a
preacher, so tortured by his own perceived guilt and sin that he placed pebbles
in his shoes, wrapped his midsection tightly with barbed wire and eventually
blinded himself, all as penance for sins that may or may not have really
Node Date Fri May 18 2001 at 4:17:46
Stats: 8 ¶,
16 s, 213 w,
The Walking Man yearns to stop. He longs for
normalcy, roots, and perhaps even love.
Chapter Notes Courtesy of Demeter
At the end of episode 14, Roninspoon left our protagonist
examining his memories so here I thought I’d pause again to see where that
might take him, what it might reveal about who he was (Sorry Custy, I’m just a
sucker for character building). I couldn’t believe in a person without some
doubts, so I gave him some, along with some dreams and I took the opportunity
to dispose of our disappearing character though somewhat
unsatisfactorily. However, he needed to keep going and didn’t want to define a
quest for others, so decided that doubts might equally drive him on as stop him.
Node Date Fri May 18 2001 at 5:00:16
Stats: 9 ¶,
22 s, 323 w,
The Walking Man on the streets of a dirty and decadent
city. He doesn't like it and it doesn't like him.
Chapter Notes Courtesy of Aphrodite
Up until here TWM had been passing through rural or suburban landscapes,
observing relatively friendly or non-threatening scenes. Here I wanted to give
him dirt, stink and danger to deal with and to make him observed as well as
observing. He doesn't like it much - but who would?
Node Date Sat Jun 09 2001 at 0:15:15
Stats: 15 ¶,
55 s, 710 w,
After crossing a metaphysical bridge in the badlands, the
Walking Man encounters a large woman trapped in the eye of the needle.
After lending assistance and some helpful advice, he proceeds on his way.
Node Date Sat Jul 10 2004 at 4:10:06
Stats: 1 ¶, 33 s, 276 w, 1622 c
In between places, the Walking Man ponders the many promises that have faded like sunsets beneath his heels.
Node Date Sat Jul 21 2001 at 8:53:21
Stats: 62 ¶,
131 s, 1664 w,
Leaves are falling and an Autumnal chill cuts the air as
the walking man passes through Hicksville. He is blessed with the
unexpected kindness of a lonely and heroic stranger.
Chapter Notes Courtesy of Demeter
This is well my favourite of the episodes I’ve written for the project.
The character portrait I wanted to build here was the woman, and I’m pleased
with how she turned out - she’s strong, brave, determined, caring and kind -- and
complex. She’s kind of a symbol for everything the Walking Man doesn’t have in his
life, and perhaps longs for, although this episode really isn’t about him at all.
Being pompous, I suppose I wanted to look at the transitory nature of joy in the
lives of desperate people. The woman could only reach for the Walking Man because
she knew the extent of the interaction, so she could grab at a temporary
escape to help her bear the dismal struggle without setting up a potential
disappointment that might be her final straw, and he could respond for the
same reasons. But I wanted something hopeful too a reinforcement of
human kindness, even in the face of misery.
Node Date Sat Jul 21 2001 at 10:31:41
Stats: 39 ¶,
109 s, 1489 w,
The Walking Man defends himself from a murderous attack and is rewarded with an
apology, apple pie and an invitation from the sheriff: "Leave when you
are able and don't come back."
Chapter Notes: Courtesy of Rancid_Pickle
Seems I'm always following after Demeter, perhaps she's my Walking Man
For this story, I wanted to incorporate some action and
danger. The two yokels who assault the Walking Man are based on two
kids I knew decades ago. The bully in particular had absolutely no regard for
others. He was known to randomly punch people, both male and female, right in
the face when they weren't looking. Not many people mourned at his passing
after he was killed in a drug deal gone bad.
I wanted the Walking Man to be put into a situation where it came down to
survival, and how he dealt with the aftermath. I really struggled with the
timid companion of the bully, in the original version of the story the Walking
Man killed both of the attackers. In the end I wanted to show that he had
mercy and reasoning skills in dire circumstances.
Node Date Mon Aug 06 2001 at 21:57:15
Stats: 24 ¶,
54 s, 826 w,
The Walking Man is in the hood, hangin' with his homey Rat Davis, and witnessing some seriously heinous shit.
Chapter Notes: Courtesy of TheDeadGuy
I had been exposed to everything2 for less than three months
when I stumbled upon the Walking Man series. For some reason it reminded me of
an overhyped television "drama" series from the 1960's and 1970's.
There was the element of the man wandering from place to place, sort of like
The Fugitive or The Incredible Hulk or one of what seemed like dozens of
television shows that used a similar theme.
For whatever reason, whether it was that some parts of the series seemed to
take themselves too seriously, or something else, I felt a twinge. This didn't
have to always delve into the deeper meaning of the Walking Man. They didn't
all have to be "very special episodes" of Walking Man. Sometimes,
maybe, he would encounter shallow and selfish people who were on the edge of
sanity. He would encounter someone who was just plain mean, and for a while,
he wouldn't have to walk. He would ride and the ride would take him nowhere.
The ride takes him nowhere, convincing him he has to walk again.
And so there was the idea of special guest star Mickey Rourke as
"Rat Davis" because these kind of shows always need special guest
stars to pump up their ratings, and they usually choose big name stars whose
careers are on the wane. Needing someone who fit this description, who could
be mean, selfish and cruel, I naturally thought of Mickey Rourke.
And, of course, the real star of the episode is the sixty foot whip
antenna. Walking Man 21 is a parody of the rest of the series. I think. Is
Node Date Fri Nov 30 2001 at 6:43:49
Stats: 16 ¶,
51 s, 942 w,
A sunny day, the glory of nature, a spartan lunch in a
lonely clearing. The Walking Man visits Beatrice and leaves a red poppy
This was a more or less spontaneous, experimental piece written at a time during which I was exploring different styles of noding and writing, as
later documented in my April 2003 editor log. I hadn't paid much attention to the works of collaborative fiction on E2, nor
did I have any strong appreciation of Walking Man or the other projects. I have also never analysed my own writing.
It seems to be the rule that there is little continuity among the different chapters of Walking Man. Mine is no different in that aspect, except I
intentionally wrote it to contrast with the preceding chapter (I still don't like it, Keith, you literary saboteur).
Seeing the "serious" story-telling being jarred by a spoofish insert I thought that it pretty much had to be given a push in the right direction.
This is how it came to be something completely different from WM21. I changed everything--the characters, the setting, the time and pace. From the
urban to the pastoral, from the modern to the timeless, even from cynicism to whimsical romance, which is unusual since I'm much more adept at the
former. I added life--many different kinds of life, death, and magic. Beginnings and ends. Maybe it's all--every Walking Man episode--a bit like a
musical piece, the Walking Man being the motif with which each movement opens and closes, and a number of different presences-instruments interact
with it before he carries on alone. I think that is what Walking Man is about... the solitude inherent in the beginnings and endings of chapters of
life and the random encounters in between.
Node Date Tue Dec 04 2001 at 4:37:03
Stats: 10 ¶,
41 s, 646 w,
A hobo in the suburbs, the Walking Man turns down the offer of
Node Date Mon Oct 21 2002 at 0:43:51
Note: The original Walking Man 24 writeup by Rancid_Pickle was removed in April 2008 by the author. Replacement writeups are welcomed!
Stats: 10 ¶,
38 s, 570 w,
The walking man weathers a violent storm in a cornfield,
befriends an injured cat and uncovers a bloody and ironic chain of events.
Chapter Notes: Courtesy of Rancid_Pickle
I'm starting to see a trend here - my entries involve violence, blood and
misery in one form or another.
This chapter was a quick story to introduce the readers to
the tender side of the Walking Man. Through the cat, I wanted to show he had
empathy for others and, in a round-about way, to show that he would make a
great Dad, one who would shelter his kids from the storm and bear the brunt of
the violence in the world. When the bird is discovered, the Walking Man
shows forgiveness and sympathy, just as he would if his own children ran
back to him after doing something stupid. The act of burying them together was
to show we should all get along despite our differences, because in the end
we're all together in our final resting place. The flattened beer can was just
a flattened beer can.
Node Date Thu May 15 2003 at 18:44:16
Stats: 37 ¶,
167 s, 2860 w,
A cold February sends the walking man south to warmer
climes. In the southwest, he encounters a passionate amiga, and an old
friend. An accident is narrowly averted, and an incongruous seabird
casts a long and portentous shadow.
Chapter Notes: Courtesy of Lometa
Encouraged by Rancid_Pickle to do a chapter, I was glad to try because fiction writing is something I have wanted to work on to improve my skills. Since I wanted this writing exercise to have some continuity and continue, I read through what the others had done before. A few had already suggested that he had a troubled past so I sketched that in a little more. To explain his presence in Africa, the metaphysical tour de force and allow for other mythologies it could be that he disappeared for periods of time. I also decided to pick up on Demeter's introduction of the idea that the Walking Man spent two weeks in one place while he considered the pros and cons of settling down.
Art has a need of back middle and foreground. The time has arrived for the story to step forward against the background of his past, to confront some ghosts and create a contrasting spark in the present.
There is so much middle ground in the form of the here and now, so to add balance within the Walking Man 25 narrative I put a little color of what went on before and a tint of foreshadows. There are three themes guilt, destiny and evolution.
As a tip of the hat to previous writers there are pipe links to write ups to each one of the authors.
Symbolism is used on several levels.
- Not only is Carol Beth’s adversary, she is also there to test the Walking Man’s limitations Their relationship casts a slur upon his reputation. An allusion to a repetition in his future marriage talked about in Walking Man 11
- Beth is an unrequited love; she has reached a conclusion that they will never speak the same language. Even if there is only one reader who wanted Beth in that car, well then as a novice author I’ve accomplished my goal.
- Karen is intentionally left as an outline for the next writer to fill in if they would care to. Or the Walking Man could simply give a friendly “I’m all right” wave to everyone and be on his way to his next encounter.
- Yago, is well Yago. Scratch the surface and you’ll find the Don Quixote in disguise that dominates the popular imagination. Yago not only embodies, but reflects the truth.
- Marita is a McGuffin, a shadowy champion for her people.
- Madison is a possible second chance.
- Destiny deals a third queen from her hand. The heady Sedona is foreign yet familiar. The quick friendship echoes his history with Beth.
A scrim of hope forms in the Walking Man. Fate suddenly puts her back in the middle of the deck. Destiny reshuffles the cards lays three more on the table and passes the deck on to the next writer.
The story is pure invention based on a random collection of elements from personal experiences to knit what's in front of the reader into the rough cloth of fiction Before writing this story, I had just returned from a recent weekend retreat with a very good friend. Along the lines of the six degrees of separation theory, I used parts of that trip as a premise for the setting to get the characters together in one location. The practice of explicating so much poetry here at E2 accounts for most of the devices that were chosen to construct the story around. Keeping it condensed was difficult.
The story easily fell into place. Working out the details is where the real effort came in. I wanted to know if the characters were believable, did the story hang together. Where do I need to connect the dots? I asked others for some help in getting the characters fleshed out. I wanted to know if the story would fit within the conventions of the exercise. For example, GrouchyOldMan to helped me to see some of the female characters from a man’s point of view. He pointed out areas where characters needed motivations for their actions. I learned a lot.
Overall it is hard work yet very satisfying to create characters with meaning then to find ways of having them interact with the Walking Man.
I think it's important to acknowledge that the series has come this far and it speaks to the high caliber of writers that are participating. The hope is that the Walking Man will continue on his trek.
Node Date Mon Jun 02 2003 at 23:29:21
Stats: 36 ¶, 124 s, 1811 w, 11340 c
The Walking Man enjoys the comforts and company of an
evening with friends and reveals that he's not that much different from the
rest of us.
Chapter 26 was an induced birth, dragged
kicking and screaming from the creative womb of this humble pen.
When Lometa first showed me Walking Man 25 I thought it was just a story
with an odd title rather than the most recent chapter in a historic
event. It wasn't until I began playing with the soft links that the
whole Walking Man project emerged for me and, like so much of E2, it was
like falling down the rabbit hole.
I became intrigued with the concept and wanted
to help it along somehow. As a first step in the process I felt I needed
to understand and learn from the existing Walking Man chapters so I started
the Annotated Index to help me in that effort. As the index evolved and
I received the gracious assistance of many other Walking Man authors, I came
to understand the elements I wanted to include in my own contribution.
Walking Man 26 begins a few moments after the near fatal
accident of the previous chapter. The characters and previous
history are intact as near as possible and we make the transition in the form
of a Drabble, a work of fiction in exactly 100 words. With the scene
set, the Walking Man is suddenly deconstructed into a very real person, with
sore feet, a three day beard and a longing for a soft bed.
His mission, or at least part of it, is revealed. He's a
writer, and far from being disconnected from the world, he uses technology to
stay in touch with a community much like ours. He's us and we're him. In
some senses he's very real, but from another perspective, he is just words on
This paradox is thrown into sharp relief at the end of
Walking Man 26, as Beth, a very real woman from his past,
leads him from the room.
Node Date Tue Jun 03 2003 at 4:07:22
Stats: 17 ¶, 48 s,
1082 w, 6157 c
A forest god watches as the man walks, and a noisy city rises
relentlessly from the fertile ground.
Chapter Notes: Courtesy of DejaMorgana
Ah, Chapter Notes - I'm terrible at talking about my work, but here goes:
The first thing that came to me for my WM story was the
pitter-patter. I had just discovered Walking Man, and while thinking about
him walking through the woods, I became annoyed with the "thump thump
thump" that opened and closed every one of the first chapters. I recognized
that it was part of the original formula for the Walking Man concept, and felt
that if I just ignored it I might as well never have entered the series. But
it pissed me off. It was monotonous, and it sounded like the segue into the
X-Files theme at the beginning and end of every episode. So I started
thinking about ways to fuck with that sound. And the first decent thing I
could come up with was doing the thump thump thump as heard by beings that
live on different time scales from ours, watching the Man flitter back and
forth like a moth. The geomancy came later. That's about all I can say,
hardly any of this was planned. This is probably the most spontaneous fiction
piece I've written in the last year or so - which seems to me a demonstration
of how good the WM concept actually is.
Node Date Wed Jun 04 2003 at 3:25:15
Stats: 8 ¶, 24 s,
313 w, 2049 c
The Walking Man emerges once again into the clear warm sunshine.
His head is filled with the metaphors of music and poetry as he approaches the
next fork in the road.
Chapter Notes: Courtesy of drownzsurf
The forest setting seemed spooky and sentient, so I put the
Walking Man back out in the light. And since he'd seen fields and cities and old
and new acquaintances, some living and some dead, I thought the internal
landscape might be a nice change. Everything is relative when it comes to our
'comfort zone.' When we are alone with our thoughts, music sometimes becomes
the soundtrack of our lives. Certainly the blues and songs of the road would
come flashing back for a bittersweet mix of comfort and longing.
Node Date Fri Jun 06 2003 at 4:09:41
Note: The original Walking Man 29 writeup by Rancid_Pickle was removed in April 2008 by the author. Replacement writeups are welcomed!
Stats: 23 ¶, 80 s,
1008 w, 5726 c
The Walking Man rests alongside a peaceful river and meets a kindred
spirit in a tweed jacket. He gains some serviceable boots, a salmon dinner and
the beginnings of a new understanding as he turns his back on solitude to
follow the road more traveled.
Node Date Sun Jun 29 2003 at 2:34:52
Stats: 15 ¶, 93 s,
1276 w, 7477 c
The Walking Man encounters a sporting crowd as he strolls through the
city. The home team prevails and he watches as enthusiasm gives way to
euphoria then swells into frenzy and chaos. Rubber bullets fly, acrid
smoke rises in the streets and the Walking Man longs for the solace of the
Node Date Tue Jan 27 2004 at 0:47:27
Stats: 57 ¶, 161 s, 1424 w, 8259 c
The Walking Man meets a friend and contemporary on the Appalachian trail. They contemplate the many miles behind them and then he asks a question to which there is no answer.
The Appalachian Trail is a strange thing. On the one hand, the people who
complete through-hikes are dreamers, communing with nature, giving themselves
trail names and whatnot, dropping out of normal life for a period of six or
seven months so they can live in a smelly sleeping bag. On the other hand, these
people are totally serious. The Trail is 2000 miles of rough terrain. You can’t
finish it without being utterly dedicated to your dream. You get sick, you get
lonely, you’re carrying all your food, your feet hurt, you spend a lot of time
wet. It’s not easy. So it seems to me that most AT through-hikers are pretty
interesting people, and I figured if the Walking Man was ever going to meet
someone who might understand him, the Trail was the place for it to happen.
The old lady just popped out of nowhere. I had started out with a completely
different idea, different characters and everything. There were all these other
Walking People, it was like Highlander meets the royal family of Amber. I didn’t
care about a single one of them, and the story was crap. Then she stuck her head
in my door and changed it all around. I thought she was going to be some kind of
love interest for WM, but I’m rather glad that didn’t happen. It would
probably hurt George’s feelings.
Node Date Thu Nov 25 2004 at 5:30:55
Stats: 32 ¶, 96 s, 920 w, 5448 c
"He was a wanderer. He was a dreamer. Listless, in some sense frail of soul and uncertain of spirit, a poet cast away on the seas."
The Walking Man takes a breather on a mellow evening and has a friendly chat with The City Man. A lyrical meeting of the minds but perhaps not the hearts.
I'd thought about it for a long time. The phrase "listening to the sunset" was actually the seed for it, I wanted him to try to share that feeling with someone, and have him lift someone else's perceptions over the horizon.
Node Date Sat May 14 2005 at 0:21:33
Stats: 29 ¶, 63 s, 911 w, 5222 c
The Walking Man doesn't like the darkness and he doesn't like the city.
His encounter with Goth Girl and her friends brings back memories he'd
prefer to leave forgotten.
Node Date Mon Jun 19 2006 at 21:22:55
Stats: 44 ¶, 122 s, 1984 w, 10735 c
The old fella meets a child with a child within and administers some grace and wisdom.
My old friend The Custodian told me that he never imagined the walking man aging. I replied that I always imagined him as one who ages but cannot die.
If you're ever in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, and find yourself in the True Value Hardware store on Cherokee Ave., say "hi" to Carl for me.
Node Date Fri Aug 17 2007 at 22:53:44
Stats: 29 ¶, 146 s, 1632 w, 9415 c
Lured by angelic blond syrens, our peripatetic hero browses the detritus of a Red State yardsale. Among the many surprises that await him are a poetry lover and a sartorial upgrade.
For Lost Gems of Yesteryear I wanted a story that worked in the names of the three writeups I'm promoting. I first imagined an episodic take where the as-yet-unknown protagonist would encounter each in turn (passed by the fire engine of The Great Figure, etc.). But that felt forced, and I thought "Where can he encounter this jumble of items in one place?" At a 'jumble sale', of course. From there the story started to take shape.
Two 'test readers' read the initial lead phrase, " Silver needles bobbed within the deep pool of shade...." and got two different images (pine needles in a pool of water, syringes), neither of them what I wanted. I added extra description to fix that without placing undue focus on something incidental to the story. The framing device of the lemonade stand is based on the sharp-minded daughters of a friend of mine. If they ever read it, I expect to be hit up for an appearance fee.
I've wanted to restart Walking Man for a while. Some 'WM in the city' ideas never gelled, so when this idea formed I made it a Walking Man story. I like to write vignettes of his journey, using him as an observer. Other authors make him a primary actor, which is fine too. But for me, he's an instrument. He opens a window, looks in briefly, and walks on.
Work in Progress...
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Sincere thanks to: Lady Lo, Mr. D, Dem Bones, The Custodian, TheDeadGuy, momomom, Demeter and the rest of the Walking Man
authors: past, present and future.
I'm tired now, you all take it from here...
-El Hombre Caminando