Riding Bikes and Writing Books (For The First Time!)

I’m going to tell you something that I haven’t told anyone else. Well, very few people know. 

A few months ago, at the age of 36, I learned to ride a bike.

I know what you’re thinking. What kind of lame person in their mid-30s doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle?

Me. I’m the lame person.

And there isn’t a good excuse really. I had a bike when I was younger, but just never cared enough about it to really learn to ride it. So please don’t begin thinking I had some screwed up childhood. I simply cared a lot more about playing baseball and basketball than I ever did about riding a bike.

Also, I’m pretty good at quitting things.

I’ve walked away from numerous things in my life that I sometimes regret, such as giving up baseball too early, quitting the band when it got too hard, or literally getting an incomplete in AP Art because the challenge was more than I bargained for.

So walking away from riding a bicycle wasn’t a big deal at the time, but now as a dad of two girls who like riding, I needed to be an example. Or just end the embarrassment. One of the two.

So now I know. I’ve got a nice silver Trek mountain bike. I’ve ridden what I call the trail of death, which is essentially a mild course near a park. I crashed three times. Scrapes on my legs, a broken reflector, and destroyed pride to prove it.

The point is, I’ve learned. I swallowed said pride and went to a local bike store and learned. “Hello. My name is Eddie. I'm 36, and I can’t ride a bike.”

Learning to ride was something I needed to do. And I’ll continue doing for the enjoyment of my family.

But another new thing I’m doing is something I’ve wanted to do. It’s just as scary and involves just as much pride-swallowing. 

I’m writing a book.

It may seem natural for any type of writer to say that. But actually sitting down and writing one is a whole other thing. 

I’ve been writing for a long time. I’ve written articles for websites, devotions for churches, and marketing pieces for work.

I’ve written poetry for decades, starting with my teen years with rhyming pieces about girls that sounded like poorly written pop songs. In college, I wrote angry poetry (mostly about the church) and spiritual poetry (as God brought me through that anger) which was also pretty bad. Now I write poetry in hopes of someday actually being published somewhere (I hope the editors for Ploughshares or the New Yorker are reading this).

I’ve written blogs for years on my own personal site. They don’t get read much, and they’re kind of all over the map topically. But hey, where else can you read about life’s failures, feminism, the difficulties of prayer, and Notorious B.I.G. in the same place? 

And of course, the most personal pieces that have gotten thousands of reads over the months and years for which I am extremely grateful. Pieces such as the 1996 Chesnee High football team and my personal disgust for church that God has changed.

But writing a book is different. It requires research. It requires preparation. It requires you building an audience. It requires the most expensive thing of all: time.

While time is something I find difficult to attain, I carve out space on Thursday nights to work on my book. Time away from work and the responsibilities of home. Time to focus on a story.

A story, because I’m writing a fiction book.

That is another unnerving aspect of the process. I’m writing a story that my mind has come up with. Not a non-fiction book. Not a Christian book (we have too many of those as it is). A fiction book with a story I hope evokes emotion and provokes thought.

I hesitate to tell people about my writing because nobody loves a self-promoter. We all get annoyed at the person who pushes their product in our faces over and over again. 

And I won’t do that much for now, because the act of writing a book is humbling. It is not easy, and it is something you have to love in order to make it work well.

And by telling you I’m writing a book, it exposes me. It’s this massive goal that I’m working toward and, if I fail to complete it, it becomes another baseball career cut short, another teenage Boy Scout failing to become an Eagle Scout, and another incomplete grade in art class. It becomes getting on a bike with training wheels, and never attempting to learn to ride well enough to remove them.

So that’s my personal news. I can now ride a bike, and now, I am writing a book. I won’t promise it will be good. I hope and pray it will find the eyes of a publisher at some point. For now, I’m working through, chapter by chapter, to create something meaningful and something I can really be proud of.

We all have the things we work on. Goals we set out to achieve. I have my thing. I know my goal. Here’s hoping I see it through to the end, and the times I crash that I’ll get back on and keep riding and...writing.