Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Burn


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.
An eagle soared. The lake and river, bridges and farmlands glowed. Mount Rainier reigned. The immense natural beauty took my breath away. And then the extremes of wealth and poverty slapped me in the face.
Who needs a private helicopter? I mean really. And though a rundown trailer court is not poverty by any international, or even national definition, it stood in stark contrast to the lake front properties less than twenty miles away.
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.

1 comment:

Camela Thompson said...

I grew up near the helicopter photographed and I never - not once! - saw it take off.

Kudos on the 50 mile trek!! What a gorgeous stretch of weather we have had in Seattle. I have hopes that it will return once the 4th has passed. Funny how that works.