To push myself forward as a writer, I recently joined, IWSG, the Insecure Writers Support Group.
IWSG was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh in an effort to assist writers from all stages, those who are unpublished to bestsellers, with overcoming their writing fears, struggles, doubts, and concerns. IWSG helps writers build confidence, something I’m in dire need of, through encouragement, and community support.
The first Wednesday of each month IWSG posts an optional question to its members. Each months question has several amazing co-hosts. Dolorah, Tanya Miranda, Chemist Ken, and Christopher D. Votey are October’s co-hosts. Feel free to drop by their blogs and see what they are up to.
October’s question of the month is: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?
I find it extremely hard to write when going through a difficult major life event. If I am in the thick of an overwhelming crisis, I stay away from the page. Someone once asked me to write a family members eulogy. The tears came, but the words were nowhere to be found. If, by chance, the words do come I find them much to personal to share. It’s much easier for me to write about happy life events.
Irritating day-to-day events, like work or minor family problems, are easy. Except, when I report them on my Morning Pages, I find myself going off on a major rant. The “Stuff” seems to snowball, I become obsessed and coerce the outcome to always be in my favor. I’ve learned this is unhealthy both for me and the relationship I have with the person/s I’m ranting about. I’m still working on that.
October Progress Report
In September, I began a Plein Air writing class. Plein Air writing is simply writing outdoors. Some of my areas most scenic and inspirational locations will become our classroom. After a short meditation, class members are given time to respond to a prompt. We wander off in silence, find a peaceful place to sit and write whatever comes to mind. Afterward, writings are shared but not commented on.
A Quick Review- Fifteen years ago, at age 50, I decided I wanted to train for the 24 Hours of Adrenalin mountain biking race. After finding a trainer, and four other riders, ages 15 to 27, our all-female team of novice mountain bikers embarked on an amazing journey. My memoir is the story of what it took to get us to the race, self-discovery, inspiration, lasting friendships, teamwork, and letting go.
Bill is our trainer
Sarah is my friend, cycling companion and teammate
October’s Memoir Excerpt
Bill, Sarah and I met at the brown gate near Fort Ord around 5:00 pm and unloaded our bikes. After riding up Old Reservation Road, we turned off the pavement onto Sandy Ridge Trail. I felt good but was trying to hold back in an effort to keep my heart rate down. I had started wearing a monitor some time ago as I tended to allow my pulse to get too high while riding. We turned onto Sherwin’s Extension, a single-track, downhill trail that had two oak trees growing side-by-side in the middle of our path. There were three ways to approach this section of the trail. Ride between the two trees (which is what Bill did), get off and walk, (Sarah’s and my usual tactic), or skirt around the trees. This particular day, we decided to try to make the corner by swinging out around the trees. A rut worn into the pathway by countless riders made taking that approach a bit sketchy. I envisioned myself getting stuck in the rut and slamming my shoulder into the tree. The sandy shoulder edged by poison ivy seemed less daunting to me.
My bike rattled beneath me as I rode down the hill and attempted the corner. I slowed to make the turn and ended up stepping off into the poison ivy. Sarah came behind me. Neither of us made it. “I have to do this again,” she called as she marched back up the hill. I followed. Several more attempts ensued. So much for keeping my heart rate in check.
Bill coached us through. “You should already be sitting toward the back of the seat. When you get to the sandy spot, let off on the front brake. Stay off the brake when you turn the corner. Don’t worry about the tree. Look where you want to go.” His demonstration made it all look so easy.
On one attempt, I fell into the poison ivy. ‘After this, I guess I’ll know for sure if I’m allergic to poison ivy,’ I thought. ‘There are so many things to remember. I don’t think I’ll ever get it and the tree really freaks me out.’
We played on that section of the trail for quite some time, but you could tell Bill was getting anxious to keep riding. “One more try,” I said, pushing my bike back up the hill.
I straddled my bike and took off. Gaining speed on the downhill, I tried to remember everything he had said. Hovering over the back end of the saddle I attempted the corner. As I approached the sandy spot, I let off on the front brake and tried to eyeball the curve instead of the poison ivy on my left and the tree on my right. Truth be told, at this point, I may not even have had my eyes open. Next thing I knew my back tire skidded slightly to the outside and I was around the corner. It wasn’t perfect, but I made it.
Sarah made it too. High fives all around. Invigorated, we moved on to our next quest. The Three Sisters.
The pictures below are photos of photos taken with an Instamatic camera. The top two photographs are: (Left) Sarah being coached Bill (Right) one of Sarah’s attempts to maneuver Sherwin’s Extension. The lower photographs are: (Left) Bill coaching me on an early attempt (Right) Bill showing us how it’s done.