A home for a hiker

joyboards of Tokyo
all the beautiful faces
where am I, really?


sunlit banksia
black cockatoo and rainbow
I’m in Australia

And — like that! — I find myself home, with a massive debt, no job, and a sackful of memories. I’ve only written the two haiku above since I finished walking six weeks ago, which, after a month of meditation and two weeks of unpacking and socialising, seems like an age ago. Thanks to everyone who followed along and commented on the haiku during the walk.

Not many of them are keepers — most are journeyman poems, some mere prose. But hopefully they imparted a flavour of what it was like to walk the length of Japan. And I think I largely achieved the goals I set for myself: to sharpen my skills of observation, establish a writing routine, and build poems from plain words rather than baroque ones. Many of them serve as little time capsules, preserving moments I would have otherwise forgotten; in many cases I can vividly remember where I was and what I was doing when I composed them. Another unexpected bonus is that I’m finding it easier and more enjoyable to read poetry in general; I’m better equipped to understand the choices other poets make. If you enjoyed reading the haiku, you might consider a donation to the charity I was raising money for, The Fred Hollows Foundation.

I’m planning to write a book about my journey across Japan next year, and after a bit of redrafting will be incorporating the best of the haiku into the narrative. I hope the book will be out sometime in 2010. Stay tuned. I have written a lot on the Four Corners of Japan site about what I learnt from the walk. I was going to edit, rearrange, and post them here, as it’s the kind of thing I like to post to hydrolith, but rather than inflict them on subscribers, many of whom have already read them on the other site, you can find them here.

Other than a book about walking Japan, I’m focusing on short fiction. I completed a couple of stories during my walk, and have notes for half a dozen more. During my self-imposed exile from the everyday, the anthology Dreaming Again: Thirty-five New Stories Celebrating the Wild Side of Australian Fiction was released. It contains my sci-fi short story This is My Blood, which I co-wrote with my friend Ben Francisco.

The anthology has been getting great reviews, and I’ve been a bit shocked by how many have singled out our story for praise. George Williams, in the national broadsheet The Australian, said that “Dreaming Again is chock-full of entertaining and thought-provoking short fiction. My favourite story is by new authors Ben Francisco and Chris Lynch: This is My Blood mixes a powerful combination of human religion, alien culture and first contact on an unknown planet in the distant future.” The Australian Financial Review wrote that the anthology was a “deep treasure chest” and praised “the vision and potency of story” of This is My Blood, in which “many complex themes are explored in a short space”.

Well, that’s it from me for a while. I’ll be posting more about my walk on Four Corners in the next few weeks, but for now hydrolith is returning to its regularly scheduled silence, punctuated by the occasional thought bubble. It’s evolving toward a platform for my published writing, but I’m loathe to turn it into the daily navel-gaze or bristling link-fest of many blogs. One of the things I learnt from my walk is that I’m not really a blogger, so hydrolith will continue to be not-really-a-blog.

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4 Responses to A home for a hiker

  1. christopher says:

    congrats! buying the book now…

  2. M.M. says:

    Otsukaresama deshita!

  3. Jack says:

    Gday mate,
    Ive come across your site about trekking the Nakasendo path. I will complete the walk myself this coming November, and would be keen for some tips!! 😉 I have little time to plan and organise everything, but intend to arrive in Tokyo late October (will attend 100% Design Tokyo;) then to begin the walk.
    I have almost non-existent Japanese language ability, but hope to learn some over the coming months. Hopefully weather will be ok, finishing in November easily before Winter hits. I intend to stay in accommodation, rather than camping. Obviously will need maps, backpack, walking shoes, canne dfood, camera, etc because at the moment I have very little idea what to expect. Having never attempted anything like this, in a foreign country, I am crazy excited!! 😉
    Cheers dude, hope to hear from you soon. Btw congrats on you finishing the walk. Must have given you much joy and pleasure with what Japan has to offer. Any future walking adventures? Thanks again, Jack

  4. hydrolith says:

    Thanks, Jack. No plans at this point for another big walk, but it's probably only a matter of time. All the best with your walk — will drop you a line.

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