Writing is (Not) Like Riding a Bicycle

As you know, I am a first-time (published) fiction author, and this book took a lot of time – and incredible effort – to raise back up the creative writing skills that smoldered when I was a school-age kid.  In my youth, I was really good at making up stories and writing them.  My writing was by no means great writing, but it was fun and easy to read, and enjoy the story.  


So I was imaginative and creative as a kid, but at age almost sixty, I had not really written much creatively for over 40 years – so I was way beyond rusty.  


I had planned this all out and I admit I thought it would be easy to get back in the swing of writing.  I imagined it would be – well — like riding a bicycle – and I could just whip out my story.  But boy was that wrong.  Instead, first, second, third, fourth, tenth…dare I say twentieth….drafts littered the wastebasket.  At times I thought it was a fool’s errand and came close to just giving up.  


Thank heavens for my wife!


You probably think I am about to say here that it is for her love and support that kept me going right?


And yes I have that love and support from her, but instead I am referring to her honesty in telling me that my early drafts ‘sucked’ – her word for it.  


I hate false praise – it is crippling.  Maybe for a two or three year-old it is a good thing when he first can align the triangle piece with the triangle hole in the cut-out, but for adults trying to accomplish something it doesn’t cut the mustard.  Thank you Ann for giving me the gift of honest feedback.  


Notably, Carlos Ruiz Zafon – whom I think is (now was) one of the greatest fiction writes said about writing that sometimes you just have to sit down in front of the typewriter and force yourself to write.  I am searching for the actual quote and cannot find it, but that is what he meant.  As an aside, it is tragic he died at age 55.  


In the end, writing is not like riding a bicycle that you never forget.  It is more like playing a sport.  If you haven’t played it for a while, you have to practice and get back in shape, but if you do that you find you can still play really well.  


Anyway, that is what has happened to me.