T, my seven year old, has a hang up about his bike. We bought him a new bike for his birthday two years ago. He’s barely ridden it once we took the training wheels off. He’s strong, pretty phsyically aware. I think he’d have no trouble if he’d just try it. If we so much as suggest taking the bike out to the school track to practice, he shuts down, refuses, doesn’t want anything to do with it. He’s always been a kid who wants to be able to do things perfectly from the get go and the idea of falling down, of not succeeding on his first try, is downright terrifying to him. Despite all our support. Despite our examples of other things he’s mastered with practice, like reading.
And I get it.
Because this one’s on me.
I see a lot of that bike in myself lately. I committed myself this summer to really focusing on writing. And I’ve done that here in this space. I’ve had some great successes already and have enjoyed feeling myself back in that groove. But I also committed to really developing this book project I started. This thing I keep telling myself I’m working on that, guess what? I’m totally not really working on. Not on paper, anyway. I do lots of thinking about it. Lots of posturing about it. Lots of complaining I don’t have time to work on it. Then, when faced with available time, there is something else to do (did someone say Target?), I don’t feel great (ugh, this hangnail is killer!), I should really write a blog post instead (see, I may be doing it now!), or any number of other excuses (it’s too sunny, it’s too cloudy, when was the last time I vacuumed?) to justify why I’m not working on it.
The sad fact is, I’m so afraid I’ll do it and it will suck so completely that I’ll be forced to face the truth that this dream I’ve held onto since the second grade is foolish and silly. That I’ll realize I’m a fraud. A gal who can write some pretty decent blog posts for four to five paragraphs then get out quick before anyone figures out that’s all I got. That maybe I can’t sustain a plot, character development, dialogue for 300 pages. That maybe I’ll get hurt. That maybe I just plain can’t. And so I avoid it as much as T avoids that bike, and instead we choose the scooter or blog that we feel safe with.
But maybe, instead, this blog can be my training wheels. My safety net that allows me to practice conquering the fear for the longer bike ride of a book project in my future. The place that keeps me writing without the fear of failure.
Of course I want to be able to write this book and have it be perfect the first time out. But I’m not naive. I know it’s a longer process than that. I know it’s much harder work than that. But I won’t get anywhere by not getting on the bike. And I need to fall off that bike a few times, scrape a few knees, learn from my mistakes in order to find my balance.
So T and I are going to learn a little patience this summer. Maybe take a few risks when we’re feeling brave. Be there for each other when we fall down. And at some point, he’ll ride down the street to a friend’s house on his two wheels and I’ll finish a few chapters.
And what an exhilarating ride that will be for the both of us.