This post is the fully developed fruit of a seed that was planted on Twitter. Which means I posted something on Twitter this weekend, couldn’t stop thinking about it and decided to write it out here.
I took my daughter out to practice riding her bike in the park this past weekend. She still uses training wheels and while many kids her age still use them, some have gotten rid of them, including a few of her friends. Yes, I know, let her go at her own pace. She’ll get there when she’s ready. But she won’t get there without practice. Hence, my daughter and I in the park at 2:30 on a hot Sunday afternoon. Wife was wisely napping inside under a fan.
So the kid rides her bike a bit. Stops. Adjusts her helmet. Rides a bit more. Stops. Turns on her light. Rides. Stops. Turns off the light. Rides. Stops to “fix” her bike. Rides a bit more. Stops… you get the picture.
As I was trying to encourage her to keep riding, I realized maybe she wasn’t riding very long distances because I was walking. The times I’ve seen her riding with friends she goes pellmell until she catches her friends, catches her breath for a minute then off on the chase again.
The problem was apparent – I needed a bike. Luckily my wife’s sister lives nearby. I went over there and asked my teenage nephew if I could borrow his bike. He said yes (he should, we bought it for him 2 years ago and hasn’t ridden it since) but the tires were flat. No problem, there’s an air station in the park. Take it down there. Put air in the tires. Climbed on.
Now, its been almost 11 years since I rode a bike. I was honestly worried about falling off. But I didn’t. My daughter was very impressed. How impressed, you ask? So impressed she yelled at the top of her little lungs, “How can you do that without side wheels?”
In a busy park.
My answer, after I stopped because I was wobbly enough I was worried I’d fall off, was, “I’ve been doing this for a pretty long time, kid.”
Which got me to thinking. I have been riding bicycles for a pretty long time. And I’ve loved every minute of it. I clearly and distinctly remember my first tricycle (red). And every one since. I remember the crashes, the fast rides, riding in the snow and singing with all my heart while riding down a tree-lined street on my black Raleigh three-speed in the middle of a torrential downpour (don’t remember the song but likely The Pogues).
That is why JC has a bike shop. Because I love bicycles, so does he. I think every writer puts part of themself into the characters. Can some writers create and give voice to people who have nothing in common with them? Sure. I guess its possible. But I can’t. JC loves bicycles because I do. Joan likes push daggers and brass knuckles because I do, too. Duke loves the shotgun because I do, too. JC is trying to get back on the righteous path because I am too. Duke loves movies a bit more than I do, but we love the same ones. Joan is quiet and impatient like I often am.
Theo? That dude is an amalgamation of about 3 people I’ve known and known well in my life. So when he does some crazy-ass thing, it ain’t me, babe. It ain’t me.
But I know somebody who did. Or would.
That’s where the creative side takes over. My father was not a diplomat (Duke), Army (JC), gangster (Theo) or fisherman (Joan). Wait, I think I just revealed too much about Theo and Joan. But I can imagine the lives they may have had because I take a thread of one part of the fabric of the relationship I have with my own father, pick at it, pull it apart, magnify it, duplicate it and then weave an entire tapestry with similar threads.
So, it is late and I did have a point and a purpose when I started this but it has now eluded me. Which is why I do best as a “planner” type of writer – when I get to the end I know what I’m going to say. When I try to be a “pantser” and just go by the seat of my pants I wind up with stuff like this. Starts out good, hits the points I want to make but in the end I loose my drift/flow/point..
Hopefully this little post has given you a bit more insight into the series and the characters and maybe a bit more into me. That’s what I was trying to do. If it did, or if it failed miserably, feel free to leave a comment.