Sunday, October 28, 2012

Learning to Write

A few years ago when I first got my road bike I experienced quite the learning curve. Riding a road bike with clip-in pedals is a much different experience then cruising a parking lot on your brother's old bike. I was becoming more than a causal rider. I was becoming a roadie, a cyclist who shares the road with cars. Before purchasing my bike, I hadn't ridden in several years and never over eight miles at a time. However, the allure of a triathlon led me to the bike shop where I spent my entire tax return.

It took me all summer to become a vaguely coordinated rider. I tipped over often forgetting that my feet were now attached to the pedals and required advanced planning when stopping. I left a lot of skin on the road that first year as I adjusted to this new sport. I discovered quickly that thin racing tires did not allow for the same cushion for error that my old Schwinn bike did, when I was a kid. I also learned that physically I had my limits and riding forty eight miles wasn't the same as riding eight, just longer.

I could tell plenty of stories about that first year and my transformation into a cyclist since. However, this isn't the blog for that. (sarahdcycles.blogspot.com) Yet the lessons I learned through the process of riding that first year seem eerily parallel to become a writer.

I may have known how to ride a bike just like I know how to write a sentence or essay but having the basics doesn't mean I know what I am doing. I had to learn how to clip in and out of my pedals, build endurance and figure out how to shift the gears for hill climbing. This is much the same as finding my voice, building characters and plot and figuring out how to tell the story in readable manner.

Like I said, I fell a lot that first year. I think that means when I write garbage it all is in the name of learning. I may have the scars on my knees to prove what not to do on the bike; just like I will have countless pieces of how not to tell a story. However, each bit of road rash taught me and now three years later I hardly ever fall. I used to ride in a rather clumsy uncoordinated manner fumbling with my gears as I went but now I know myself, my gears and how to spin along with skill.

I think as I learn to write I need to remember that process so in three years I will be able to see my progress. I have by no means mastered cycling but I have become a cyclist. I believe the same may hold true for writing. I won't master it in three years but with some work I can become a writer. So here's to a little writer's rash!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Finding my Voice

There is a drawer in my kitchen full of utensils, flatware and numerous odd kitchen apparatuses.  Every time I open that drawer I may have to dig through all the extras to get what I want. That search can sometimes be for a utensil I know how to use and need for its intended purpose. I often find something in that drawer that I am shocked I have or have no idea what it does.

I think that finding my voice as a writer and as a person as some commonalities with that kitchen drawer. What I need is in there but I don't know how to use all the pieces. I might know how to use the knife and fork but if I am to make a great detailed meal, I will need more utensils than that. Much like writing a story, I will have to go beyond the my basic knowledge of sentence structure to create a compelling tale.

I am still learning what this means and discovering my voice in the stories I tell. I read the following article on how to do this. http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/05/how-to-craft-great-voice.html
Yet, I know that this is just a recipe for helping to find my voice. Becoming a writer like becoming a great cook; it doesn't happen overnight. I must learn what I have in my drawer and how to use it. It may not be the only step in creating a great meal or story but it certainly a good place to start.