Summer has arrived in Seattle: my time to write and ride as much as possible. In an odd way, these two passions are similar. When I cycle, I plan the route, distance and time in the saddle. I set goals and sometimes I meet up with other cyclists. I set writing goals as well: a scene to be written, time in the chair, pages to key into a draft manuscript. And sometimes I join other writers.
I was recently asked what I think about when I cycle. Do I think about the novel I'm working on, plot scenes, visualize settings, imagine dialogues? Nope. Maybe some speck of my subconscious is there, deep with my characters, but then I wouldn't know, would I?
I've never been asked what I think about when I put pen to paper, and yet the response would vary little because once begun these activities retain certain similarities. In both cases, I fall into a deep, almost meditative state, and let the route or the pen lead the way.
And yet, there are times, like on my 50-mile solo ride last Monday, when I notice the world around me. I rode East Lake Sammamish from Issaquah to Marymoor Park. Then I followed the Sammamish River Trail north to Bothell. If you're in the Seattle area, you may know the route.
Sometimes observation interrupts meditation, whether in writing or riding. If I stop to think about word choice or sentence structure, the story flows on without me. And if I stop to secret a few photos when I cycle, I become aware of more than the burn in my quads.