Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kind of a bike story, but mostly an analogy

Once, when I was about ten, I was riding my bike home from school. We lived in Bundaberg at the time. No hills, so there wasn’t a lot of pedalling involved. Anyway, at the time I didn’t tie my shoelaces. This was cool for some reason. Very devil-may-care. Bitches, check my dangly laces, Danger is my middle name. Or something.

Lunacy, sheer lunacy.

I was riding along Avenell Street when a strange grating noise told me something wasn't right. I looked down to discover both of my shoe laces were caught in my bike chain. Now I’m not an engineer, but it didn’t take long to see the problem: every time I pedalled, the laces wound tighter. Very soon I wouldn’t be able to pedal at all.

I’m not a physicist either, but I did understand that if I stopped moving forward I would fall over.

I was two blocks from home. This would go down to the wire.

I pedalled, and my laces were pulled further into the chain.

I turned into Harvey Street. My heart was thumping wildly.

I coasted as far as I could, and then pedalled again.

(Allow me to up the tension here by saying this occurred in the days before it was compulsory to wear bike helmets, and I was not wearing one.)

I’d just hit the corner of McLachlan Drive when it happened -- the chain jammed and I couldn’t shift the pedals.

I don’t know if all of the neighbours heard me screaming for my mother as I coasted down the street, but I had a decent audience by the time I wobbled onto our pebbled driveway -- Pebbles, I ask in my best Indiana Jones impression, why did it have to be pebbles? -- still screaming, desperately hoping my mother would hear me.

She did hear me, as it happens, and appeared out the front door just in time to see me topple over like a hysterical skittle. I don’t remember a lot about what happened next. I know it took a pair of scissors to cut me free from my bike chain, and more than a few Band-Aids to patch me up, and I remember my mother’s astute observation, delivered in a slightly sarcastic tone once she made sure I wasn't bleeding to death, that there is a good reason most people tie their shoelaces.

And now for the analogy bit. Because I promised it wasn’t a bike story, right? No, this is a writing story. It is how I’m feeling about my current WIP, and it might be how you’re feeling about yours as well:

1. Sometimes you’ll struggle like hell and get nowhere.

2. Sometimes, the harder you work the worse things get.

3. Sometimes you’ll reach the end only to collapse in a screaming heap.

4. Sometimes your Mum will have to patch you up.

5. Despite the grazes, the bruises and the laughter of your neighbours, you’ll get back on the bike tomorrow.

So let’s do this until we get it right. Helmet on, shoelaces tied -- because don’t say we don’t learn from our mistakes -- and we’re off. And you know what? We’ll get there in the end!


  1. Love the post, especially as I'm querying, getting rejections and needing lots of vodka-soaked band aids. Like you, I won't give up, I'll wobble on.

    Particularly liked "Bitches, check my dangly laces." and had a snort at "hysterical skittle." You sure know how to paint a picture.

  2. Funny story :b reminds me of the time I rode down our steep concrete driveway with my little brother on the handlebars. We still have the scars...

  3. Oh well. At least only your laces were damaged. That's easy to fix.

  4. Thanks, Magpie! And yes, we'll keep wobbling on!

    Hi Yesenia! Ouch!

    On the same bike, I once hit a fence and flipped over the handlebars, over the fence, and landed on the grass on the other side. Looking back, I can't believe me parents let me out on the road.

    @ Michael, my laces and my pride... :)

  5. What a dramatic scene, with everything going from bad to worse, like Buster Keaton chased by hysterical skittles.

    Glad your Mum was there to patch you up, and get back on your bike, yes, but keep that sense of dramatic recklessness in your work, 'cause that's what people pay to see - someone riding on the edge of danger.

    P.S. Bundaberg Bundaberg Bundaberg. I love that word Bundaberg.

  6. Reminds me of when I was first learning how to drive. I use to never have problems parking perfectly in the lines, then I took a break and suddenly it was terrifying and I sucked at it. Feels like trying to start and finish a second story the next time along because you know how hard the going will be.

  7. God, I think I may have had the same thing happen when I was a kid. Karma must have got us through our shoelaces for all that bitches talk. :)

  8. That was a great anecdote. I can just picture you screaming as your bike coasts down the street. Thanks for sharing the lesson. :)

  9. Hi MC! Oh yes, my WIP is currently riding screaming along the street as well, but at least it's a spectacle!

    I have also lived in a town called Goondiwindi, which is pronounced GUNdawindy. From Bundy to Gundy. We Australians do hate to waste our time saying all the syllables.

  10. @ LG, I'll bet you always remembered to tie your shoelaces after as well! I know I never forgot again.

    @ JEFritz, I only wish I'd seen it from the neighbours' point of view.

  11. @ Steph, God, don't get me started on learning to drive stories. I still refuse to parallel park. Can't do it, won't do it! Happy not to break that mental block down, thanks. I'll park elsewhere.

  12. And a bit of calculated risk in there too... just enough loose lace to get you home... A lovely story!

  13. We'll never be too old to want our Mums to patch us up :-)

  14. Poor little you!

    Awesome story ^_^

  15. @ Chrfistine, thanks!

    @ Sarah -- totally agreed!

    Thanks, Miss Cole!

  16. Oh Jen, this had me laughing from start to finish. Although, I am sorry you fell; I was hoping your Mom would swoop out and catch you before you hit the ground. That's my optimism coming out. AND since it wasn't a bike story, I did love the analogy as well. *pulls helmet on* And I'm off...

    P.S. Thanks for your kind words on my blog.

  17. This is a truly awesome post. I love it!! In fact I loved it so much I retweeted it.

  18. Hi Catherine! Thanks for following! At the time it was painful and embarrassing, but I'm glad it happened how it did. It wouldn't be as funny to tell if my Mum had caught me!

    @ Lynda, thanks for the retweet! Glad you liked it.

  19. Do you have a spam issue on this website; I also am
    a blogger, and I was wondering your situation; many of us have created some nice procedures and we are looking
    to exchange solutions with others, please shoot me an email
    if interested.

    my webpage:

  20. I am new to developing web sites and I was wanting to know if having your website title relevant
    to your articles and other content really that important?
    I see your title, "Blogger: Jen's Bookshelf " does seem to be spot on with what your
    website is about but yet, I prefer to keep my title less content
    descriptive and based more around site branding. Would you think this is a good idea or
    bad idea? Any assistance would be greatly valued.

    Check out my web-site;



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...