IWSG–March 2019

IWSG Badge

In July 2018,  I  joined IWSG, the Insecure Writers Support Group.

Assisting writers with overcoming their writing fears, struggles, doubts, and concerns, IWSG was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh in September 2011. The Insecure Writers Support Group is about writers helping other writers build confidence, through encouragement, and community support. 

The first Wednesday of each month IWSG posts an optional question to its members.  Each month’s question has several amazing co-hosts. March 2019’s co-hosts are Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard. Feel free to drop by their blogs and see what they are up to. 

March Question of the Month: Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why? 

I’ve not written enough to know whether I enjoy writing the hero or the villain, but when I thought about how I would answer this months question, visions of Dick Dastardly and Snidely Whiplash sneering over their shoulder, eyes twinkling, handlebar mustaches twitching and hands wringing suddenly popped into my head. Their brand of evil has always intrigued me. Sounds like fun. Then there’s Dastardly’s dog Muttley…he’s another ball of wax altogether.

Memoir Progress

Progress: If you’ve been following my blog or my IWSG progress reports you know I’ve been enjoying a Plein Air writing class through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). En Plein Air is a French term and simply means outdoors or in fresh air. This semester, in addition to my plein air class, I enrolled in a Creative Writing Workshop. We’re currently studying story arc. This weeks assignment involves using exposition, a component of  story arc, to lay the groundwork of our stories and introduce the characters. My take-away for this assignment is to write the who, what, when, where, and why of my story. Below is an excerpt of my very rough attempt at exposition.

First A Quick Review- Sixteen 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.

My Attempt at Exposition- It’s 5:45 AM Tuesday morning. Bleary-eyed I walk from my car to the gym for my 6:00 AM body toning class. Crossing the threshold, I am assaulted by blaring synthesized music. The spin class started 15 minutes ago, and the drill sergeant at the front of the class was barking out orders. “Let’s go! Push, Push, Push” she yelled. ‘Who in their right mind would want to physically punish themselves like that so early in the morning,’ I thought. Shoulders and face scrunched against the onslaught I walked into the peace and quiet of women’s locker room, took two final swigs of my coffee, stowed my bag, and headed for the now densely populated work out floor.

Everyone was standing around waiting for our trainer to show up. At 6:05, Becky, one of the students, walked to the front of the class, grabbed a couple of 10-pound weights and started the workout. We followed along. ‘I like this class,’ I thought as I pumped out a few bicep curls. ‘Of course, it’d be better if the trainer would actually show up. He’s home, fast asleep while we’re here, working our butts off.’ Feeling pissy, I left class early.

Thursday afternoon I’d planned to work out on my own. The gym was quiet except for the grunts and groans of the behemoths who occupied the work out floor and the occasional clunk of heavily weighted barbells hitting the floor.

Changing into my sweats, the woman next to me introduced herself and invited me to join her in the afternoon spin class. “Oh, I don’t know,” I said. “I’m not really into spinning. Those classes are brutal.”

“Our class is different than the other spin class. It’s geared toward road cyclists and mountain bikers. I think you’d like it.” Sandy urged. She seemed nice, so I decided to give it a try.

Walking into the gym, I noticed someone had moved five bikes from the spin class area to the wooden work out floor in front of the mirrors. Sandy introduced me to the instructor and, as it happens, her boyfriend.

Jerry fitted me to the bike next to Sandy then took the bike in front. A couple more riders showed up, and Jerry got started. He taught the class as though we were riding on the trail, instructing us to come out of the saddle as we climbed an imaginary hill, then to sit toward the back of the saddle as we flew down the hill we had just climbed, tightening and loosening the tension knob accordingly. I could visualize the rolling hills we rode up and down, the native grasses waving in the breeze, the wild flowers, the oaks draped with Spanish Lace that dotted the hillsides.

I watched Sandy and the others in the mirror and tried to emulate their form. The easiness and camaraderie of the group was inviting. A sense of belonging was evident. They talked about their latest ride in the hills around the old Fort Ord military base and encouraged me to join them. There was no pounding music and no screaming drill sergeant involved.

I felt invigorated when class was over.  Everyone hung out for a while making plans for their weekend ride. I wished I could join them and secretly knew someday I would. That was all it took. I had been bitten by the mountain biking bug while riding a stationary bike in the gym.





11 thoughts on “IWSG–March 2019

  1. Oh I’m right there with you!! I’ve been bitten by the mountain biking bug myself, I was introduced by my boyfriend & it was just that first bike ride that got me hooked! It’s so exhilarating. 😊 personally I don’t like gyms or spinning classes but understand yours seemed different & glad it got you hooked! A great question too, got me thinking 🤔


    • Hi Sam

      At the time the only thing that prevented me from joining the group on outdoor rides was the lack of a bike. At age 50 I had to convince my husband I was really interested in buying a bike and that I’d be safe out on the trails. Then came the shopping. About six months later I was on the trail. More on all that later.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing this glimpse into your writing experience and your memoir. I’m impressed by anyone that rides a bike. I’ve just never gotten comfortable on one. I can balance and ride if everything goes along smoothly and without distraction. Even seeing another person in my peripheral vision can cause me to wobble (or worse). Are you still riding these 16 years later?


    • Hello Christie

      I’ve always loved the bike even when I was a kid. If fact, for my 18th birthday my parents bought me a new bike instead of a car. Since I retired I take leisurely rides both on and off road. Nothing too crazy any more. It takes too long to recover and I think now I have a healthy fear of falling.



  3. Hi Laura!

    How fun and helpful you joined a creative writing class. I’m a bit envious as I’ve never had any formal writing advice or exercises. I’m sure it will be incredibly helpful. Your attempt at exposition sure grabbed my attention. Well done! Did you write this assignment for the class (I assume so), and did you have any of it in your memoir already? Also, is the writing class geared towards fiction and non-fiction writers?

    Looking forward to more!


    • Hi Liesbet

      Great to hear from you. I really enjoy the creative writing class. I think I am going to get a lot of help there. Other than a few simple on line classes and the Plein Air Class I’ve not studied writing. I was horrible in school. I wrote this months update for a class assignment and it was very helpful because I didn’t know how I was going to explain how I got started mountain biking or if I even needed to. The class is geared toward all writers. Fiction and Non-fiction. Beginners and those preparing to publish. I think this will be a good thing for me.
      Have you ever camped at Laguna Seca Raceway? It’s between Salinas and Monterey and hiking and biking abound.

      Thanks for your comments and questions

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with you – the crazy spinning classes with deafening music and militaristic orders do not sit well with me, early morning or any other time. The second kind of spinning class sounds just right!


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