IWSG October 2018

To push myself forward as a writer, I recently joined, IWSG, the Insecure Writers Support Group.

IWSG Badge

IWSG was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh in an effort to assist writers from all stages, those who are unpublished to bestsellers, with overcoming their writing fears, struggles, doubts, and concerns. IWSG helps writers build confidence, something I’m in dire need of, through encouragement, and community support.

The first Wednesday of each month IWSG posts an optional question to its members.  Each months question has several amazing co-hosts. Dolorah, Tanya Miranda, Chemist Ken, and Christopher D. Votey are October’s co-hosts. Feel free to drop by their blogs and see what they are up to. 

October’s question of the month is: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

I find it extremely hard to write when going through a difficult major life event. If I am in the thick of an overwhelming crisis, I stay away from the page. Someone once asked me to write a family members eulogy. The tears came, but the words were nowhere to be found. If, by chance, the words do come I find them much to personal to share. It’s much easier for me to write about happy life events.

Irritating day-to-day events, like work or minor family problems, are easy. Except, when I report them on my Morning Pages, I find myself going off on a major rant. The “Stuff” seems to snowball, I become obsessed and coerce the outcome to always be in my favor. I’ve learned this is unhealthy both for me and the relationship I have with the person/s I’m ranting about. I’m still working on that.

October Progress Report

In September, I began a Plein Air writing class. Plein Air writing is simply writing outdoors. Some of my areas most scenic and inspirational locations will become our classroom. After a short meditation, class members are given time to respond to a prompt.  We wander off in silence, find a peaceful place to sit and write whatever comes to mind. Afterward, writings are shared but not commented on.

Memoir Progress

A Quick Review- Fifteen years ago, at age 50, I decided I wanted to train for the 24 Hours of Adrenalin mountain biking race. After finding a trainer, and four other riders, ages 15 to 27, our all-female team of novice mountain bikers embarked on an amazing journey.  My memoir is the story of what it took to get us to the race, self-discovery, inspiration, lasting friendships, teamwork, and letting go.

Bill is our trainer

Sarah is my friend, cycling companion and teammate

October’s Memoir Excerpt

Bill, Sarah and I met at the brown gate near Fort Ord around 5:00 pm and unloaded our bikes. After riding up Old Reservation Road, we turned off the pavement onto Sandy Ridge Trail. I felt good but was trying to hold back in an effort to keep my heart rate down. I had started wearing a monitor some time ago as I tended to allow my pulse to get too high while riding. We turned onto Sherwin’s Extension, a single-track, downhill trail that had two oak trees growing side-by-side in the middle of our path. There were three ways to approach this section of the trail. Ride between the two trees (which is what Bill did), get off and walk, (Sarah’s and my usual tactic), or skirt around the trees. This particular day, we decided to try to make the corner by swinging out around the trees. A rut worn into the pathway by countless riders made taking that approach a bit sketchy. I envisioned myself getting stuck in the rut and slamming my shoulder into the tree. The sandy shoulder edged by poison ivy seemed less daunting to me.

My bike rattled beneath me as I rode down the hill and attempted the corner. I slowed to make the turn and ended up stepping off into the poison ivy. Sarah came behind me. Neither of us made it. “I have to do this again,” she called as she marched back up the hill. I followed. Several more attempts ensued. So much for keeping my heart rate in check.

Bill coached us through. “You should already be sitting toward the back of the seat. When you get to the sandy spot, let off on the front brake. Stay off the brake when you turn the corner. Don’t worry about the tree. Look where you want to go.” His demonstration made it all look so easy.

On one attempt, I fell into the poison ivy. ‘After this, I guess I’ll know for sure if I’m allergic to poison ivy,’ I thought. ‘There are so many things to remember. I don’t think I’ll ever get it and the tree really freaks me out.’

We played on that section of the trail for quite some time, but you could tell Bill was getting anxious to keep riding. “One more try,” I said, pushing my bike back up the hill.

I straddled my bike and took off. Gaining speed on the downhill, I tried to remember everything he had said. Hovering over the back end of the saddle I attempted the corner. As I approached the sandy spot, I let off on the front brake and tried to eyeball the curve instead of the poison ivy on my left and the tree on my right. Truth be told, at this point, I may not even have had my eyes open. Next thing I knew my back tire skidded slightly to the outside and I was around the corner. It wasn’t perfect, but I made it.

Sarah made it too. High fives all around. Invigorated, we moved on to our next quest. The Three Sisters.

The pictures below are photos of photos taken with an Instamatic camera. The  top two photographs are: (Left) Sarah being coached Bill (Right) one of Sarah’s attempts to maneuver Sherwin’s Extension.  The lower photographs are: (Left) Bill coaching me on an early attempt (Right) Bill showing us how it’s done.

Bill and Sarah-Sherwin's Extension        Sarah-Sherwin's Extension

Bill and Laura-Sherwin's Extension     Bill-Sherwin's Extension

12 thoughts on “IWSG October 2018

  1. You captured bills words exactly. I giggled reading them remembering exactly how he always told us how to execute a particular obstacle. Good guy he was/is. So glad I joined that spin class. So glad you asked me to join your team and so glad that we are still friends today to talk about those awesome times…..I love you!


  2. I think the words ‘look where you want to go’ are a good metaphor for life in general. Too often we are obsessed with the challenges of where we see ourselves at the present.

    This story illustrates why you are very likely a much better cyclist than I am. I would have considered it a victory on the very first descent when I maneuvered the tree without injury 😉

    So the question is – how did you far after your multiple encounters with the poison ivy?


    • Hi Joanne
      “Look where you want to go” are definitely words to live by. I have also found the cliche “It’s all about the journey,” holds true.
      I had no reaction to the poison ivy. Which seem awfully strange to me. Over the years I have had many encounters with poison ivy and poison oak and have come through with nary an itch. Lucky, I guess


  3. Hi Donna
    An amazing adventure it was. Lately, I’ve been hiking the trails we rode and cannot imagine I ever rode them or what crazy thought I had to do so in the first place.
    More to come


  4. Wow, Laura, you have a lot of determination! But, you made it through that first obstacle. Yes, the question is:”Are you allergic to poison ivy?” Your excerpt read well and it made me realize that my memoir is really trying to cover way too much. I could write pages about so many experiences, to make the reader feel how I felt. But, covering a decade of my life makes this close to impossible, without focusing on just certain events and not even going into too much detail.


  5. Hi Liesbet
    It’s great to hear from you. Several people have asked about the poison ivy. I am happy to report I did not end up with a rash and all the other ickiness that goes along with it. My memoir will cover about 1 year of time total, but really concentrate on just several months of training for the mountain biking race. It’s a very small window of time.
    Yes, your memoir covers a much broader period of time. It’s exciting to have lived on the sea. To have traveled so many places and met so many interesting people. I am in awe of your life and your current lifestyle. I’ve enjoyed reading your excerpts and hope you got some good feedback from the beta readers. I’m anxious to read your final draft.
    Thank you for your comments and the support you have shown me this past year.


  6. This is really good Laura! True determination! I’ve had quite a few spills myself from my bike, I can understand your frustrations. Sounds like a great book club. I’m wanting to write a book myself and starting by writing down a few ideas. Total novice here, a new learning curve begins. Good luck with your memoir x


  7. Hi Sam
    IWSG has been really great for me. I got on to it through Liesbet’s Blog https://www.roamingabout.com/ Liesbet’s is also a member of this group. Besides all the wonderful support, IWSG helps me feel accountable for my progress. I remember your Flash Fiction Short Story for the Annual Bloggers Bash “The Royal House.” It was fun and intriguing, you’re an awesome writer.
    Thanks for your support


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