Thursday, 6 November 2014
Riding Through Sand
Writing a novel is a bit like riding a mountain bike through sand. Not the small patches, but rather the long and unavoidable stretches you encounter on remote jeep tracks during races.
The first time I encountered sand like that was on a race in the Cederberg nine years ago. It ended with me deposited on a bed of ground hugging thorns except they had taken to hugging my backside.
Such was the misery I decided I would skill up to avoid a reoccurrence. The first thing to do is understand what you did wrong so that you can figure out what to do right. The biggest mistake was trying to hold my line. I tried to force the bike along a given path. The "come hell or high water" approach is doomed to failure in this instance.
My new method has served me well in the years since then. When I see a sand trap approaching I increase my cadence and then follow the bike. Meaning that I don't dictate the line. I allow the sand to direct the bike any which way it chooses and I go with the flow. Sometime that flow results in me cascading over thorn bushes or cutting a new path through the veld. Once through I point my bike back in the right direction and get on with the job.
From time to time as I write my plot hits a sandy patch and it's fun to see where it takes me.