16 August 2015

Guest Post: One More Step by Jim Ormonde

This past year, I've met some amazing writers from around the globe. It's been a blessing to learn who they are, where they're from, and why they write. Their stories inspire me. Jim Ormonde is one of those inspiring people. An active member in our online writing community, Jim is honest, quick to offer (excellent) help, cheers us on, and is maybe even considered 'a knight in shining armour  by some. When I asked Jim to write a guest post for Where's Joe Wellington, he didn't hesitate. It's an honour to present Jim's take on this rather odd, but very fun, and quite real search for my long-lost Kiwi mate:

“If I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, it stands to reason that I'm going to get there.”

So wrote Rachel Joyce in her beautiful novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. After hearing nothing from his former colleague for twenty years, Harold receives a letter from Queenie Hennessie––she’s in a hospice and wanted to say goodbye.

Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but a chance encounter convinces him of the need to deliver his message to Queenie in person because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes his friend will not die.

At any point in his six-hundred-mile journey, Harold could call, write, Skype or email and bring his quest to a speedy conclusion but the point of this story is the importance of making the journey and the discovery it brings along the way.

Did he find Queenie, did he not? I’m not sure it matters in the end (besides, you should read the book for yourself). But I was reminded of Harold’s unlikely pilgrimage when Lissa told me of her search for Joe Wellington.

Her story is equally as engaging. In 1998 she went on her own adventure to San Francisco and met, along the way, a guy called Joe. This wasn’t a love story, it was nothing more than a good story, and in many ways an unfinished one as Lissa and Joe lost touch. She thinks his last name was Wellington and that he was from New Zealand because she remembers teasing him.

            So you're Joe Wellington from Wellington?’

As it so often does, life interrupted their friendship, faded memories became loose ends, and important details blurred with time.

But almost twenty years later, like Harold Fry, a new journey has begun, this time fuelled by Lissa’s love affair with writing and her desire to use her search for Joe Wellington as the inspiration for a blog. In this pilgrimage, there are no geographic boundaries, the hard miles are being walked with words, and support is being sought from writers keen to join the hunt.

            ‘Joe! Joe Wellington! Where are you Joe Wellington?!’

I happen to be one of the new characters Lissa has met on her pilgrimage. It was a chance encounter, the ordinary with the potential to be part of something extraordinary––the search for Joe.

            ‘Where are you Joe? Can you hear me Joe?!’ I wonder if he went home to New Zealand after his time in San Francisco all those years ago, or whether, like many Kiwis, he found himself in the UK.

            ‘Joe! Joe Wellington! Where are you Joe Wellington?!’

             Silence. Joe doesn’t hear me. Maybe I need to shout louder, and further.

            ‘Are you listening, Joe? Do you even know we’re looking for you?’

            Nothing. Maybe Joe doesn’t want to be found.

            Who knows. Who knows if we’ll ever know.

But as Rachel Joyce also wrote… ‘The people he met, the places he passed, were all steps in his journey, and he kept a place inside his heart for each of them.’

Yes, I am sure Harold did. Like Lissa. Like all of us touched by this remarkable story. Wherever this pilgrimage happens to take us next.

I hope it leads us to Joe. But, in the end, I’m not sure it matters. It’s the journey that counts. And I’m happy to play my part.

            ‘Can you hear us Joe?’ we write. 

Because if we keep writing one word after the other, it stands to reason that we’re going to get there.

Jim Ormonde fell in love with writing as a youngster and decided to make a career from words while still at school when a week’s work experience at his local newspaper made him realise that writing about real life was almost as good as the made up stuff. He progressed from news reporter with provincial titles to broadcast journalist with the BBC when a chance interview with a former motorcycle champion kidnapped him from journalism and led him to an accidental career in financial services. He become CEO of a large technology company sold 72 hours before the credit crises, after which he returned to writing for pleasure, this time from a black desk in his study overlooking the family garden in rural Lincolnshire. He is engaged, with two young daughters, and would be blissfully happy were it not for the compelling need to write at least one more chapter. You can find out more about Jim on twitter @jimormonde or visit his web site: www.jamesormonde.com