Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Flat. Down. Up.

I rode my bicycle through Prospect park on Saturday, thinking about my writing, about this blog. I can not tell you how many blog posts I have 'written' while I've pedalled, how many plot holes I have worked out while gripping my pink handlebars (It's almost time for new tape, what color do you suggest?)

On this particular ride, I was thinking a lot about my novel, with it's completed first draft, which sits until I can sit with it. I have designated Friday afternoon as the time to do that. To read it, in it's entirety and see what can be done. Since I began writing the book, I've struggled to define one of the most important characters. She is a catalyst for everything that happens to my main character and I have danced around her for 72,000 words. There are decisions that need to be made and there are literal blank pages waiting for me to make them. I have lost sleep over this woman. She has made me insane.

My ride through Prospect Park did not provide any breakthroughs but I am very, very close to figuring things out.

What I did realize is how cathartic it is to ride this particular loop. I begin on a flat road, then I dip down a long hill where I fly and feel free. At the end, there is a steep slope upwards and I sweat and curse to myself the entire time. While I'm climbing, I think, I'm going home. There is no way I can do this again. But then I come to that flat and I take off for another round.

As I tried to sort through this mess of a character, I thought about what I was doing. I thought about the loop. And it made me feel better. Not just about my book but about life in general. Flat. Down. Up. And how natural it is to start again. I realize it's cliche, these hills and valleys. But to feel it, really feel it, makes me know it's true. Because that's what it's really like...to move across the earth this way.


  1. My son lives near Prospect Park so I know the area you speak about. Love this metaphor.
    Melissa, I need your mailing address to send you a book.

  2. Amazed by the stack of books on the back of the bicycle! Wonderful.

    I walk by the sea when I need to clear my head or think on characters. Nature is a wonderful Muse!

  3. Lovely post! But is this really your bicycle with its stacks of books?

  4. I don't think about my writing when i'm on a bike (i think that you should buy purple tape for your bike btw), but I do find ironing clothes the perfect opportunity to think through writing plots, characters or anything else on my mind. Whilst most people hate doing the ironing, I find it quite cathartic. I'm weird, I know....

    Great post and love the picture!

  5. Thoughts about my writing just 'occur' and it is great to hear how and where others mull over their ideas and characters. It is important to leave space between the first draft and the re read, so that you appraoah it with a mind not clouded by your initial thoughts and reactions. I know that your character will 'come out of the woodwork' at you. Thank you for sharing your excitement in such an upbeat manner.

  6. I always "write" in my head while driving, so this is not much different. Also while walking. When I was a kid, I used to ride around in circles on my bike, talking to myself - I think I was writing out loud then! I probably looked like a crazy little kid...Love the books on the back of the bike!

  7. Well said! We live on a hill now, so the only time I can get on my bike is if I drive it down to the city, which I did on Sunday for the first time this year. I just love riding my bike. Hiking also helps my brain to untangle plot threads and character blips. Life is so much about ups and downs and not giving up--taking that next loop. Thanks for sharing!