In my previous life I was an engineer. I say previous life because that was before I retired, and after retirement, I was sort of born again.
I mean born again as referring to the areas of where I spend my time during the productive part of my day. People with true wisdom would cross out the word productive and insert some clever phrase that would describe a more Brownian motion existence, but age has allowed me to become delusional about who and what I am without the men with white coats coming to my door and asking if I would like to go for a little ride.
What I have decided to focus on for the past seven years, besides family, is learning the art of writing, and riding cross-country on motorcycles. My proficiency in each of these endeavors could be likened to a graph of the stock market on a wild day that finally ends with a slight uptick, but for both writing and riding it is the journey I am enjoying. My destination is, quite simply, to be considered “good” in both endeavors, and so when I ride, I always write.
A few years ago, when I was writing my first novel, I rode alone from Virginia to southern California planning to meet my long term riding buddy in La Jolla. Whenever I ride alone, it is the on-cycle time that I treasure, and I do what some refer to as iron-butt riding, traveling an average of five hundred miles or more a day and continuing on that pace until I reach my destination.
On that trip, bowlegged and sore in a number of unmentionable places, I arrived in California two days earlier than planned, and so I decided to treat myself to a nice hotel and write for the next two days. I will admit to picking one of the nicest hotels in the country to treat myself, Hotel del Coronado, but since motel six is my usual nightly resting place, I was not worried that Tom Burdette would refuse to “leave the light on” for me in the future.
In those two days I transitioned from someone who wanted to write, to a writer.
Now I truly believe that a writer is just someone who loves to write, but simply saying that is not enough, because you have to feel like you are a writer. And up until that time, I did not feel like a writer.
For two days I sat on the patio of that beautiful hotel, several hundred feet from the ocean, and wrote, only interrupting that writing for meals and an afternoon margarita (or two).
No one came up to me and asked me what I was doing, and if they had done so on the morning of the first day, I would have said, “I used to work in the intelligence business but now I’m trying to be a writer.” On the second day my answer would have been, “I’m a writer.”
It could have been the posh setting, the self-indulgence, the margaritas, or a Hemingway existence for a few days that caused the change in mindset, but I sort of feel that it was the universe tapping me on the shoulder and telling me, “It’s okay to write. It’s okay to do what you love.”
Riding and writing, try the combination if you can. One way or another you will have a lot of fun.