If you’ve found this post because you’re a kid who loved Horizon Alpha, fair warning to you. This post contains a curse word.
Not a little one. Not hell or crap. It’s the big one.
My current publisher is family-friendly, so Horizon Alpha contains no swearing. Do you know how hard it is to write a scene where a flying shuttle crashes into a jungle full of dinosaurs without anybody saying, “oh, sh*t, we’re crashing?” or, “Dammit, we’re going down?” It’s hard. But I did it. Because the youth of the world are sensitive souls and if we promise family-friendly, then by gosh, that’s what they’re getting.
So why am I cursing in this post?
Because it just has to be that way. You’ll see.
A lot of my writing stories are also running or biking stories, because the same spirit of “just keep going” that works for sports also works for novel writing.
This is one of those stories.
So there’s this hill.
Not the hill from a couple of posts ago. The “Watch the Front Tire” hill.
This one’s worse.
It’s on a loop around a municipal airport and it’s been the bane of my existence since my husband and I started biking seriously a couple of years ago.
I’ve never been able to make it.
It’s short. It’s very steep. There’s a curve at the bottom that cuts your momentum, so it’s just a solid push. I usually make it about three quarters of the way up, then stop dead and hop off, angrily shoving my bike up the last little bit uttering other curse words that aren’t hell or crap.
I’ve had plenty of excuses, and they’ve been good ones.
But it’s been four years since chemo and almost a year since my last surgery, so as compelling as my excuses have been in recent years, they’re getting old.
Sunday was my day.
We had ridden about fifteen miles and the hill loomed up past the golf course.
Andrew rode in front of me and I geared all the way down at the bottom, because I’ve tried downshifing in the middle of this steep, short hill, and it’s gone very poorly.
I tried to get some speed up but my momentum was gone by the first quarter of the hill.
Here comes the curse word. Kids, look away.
Andrew was at the top and saw me panicking. He shouted down, “F*ck momentum, just dig!”
So I did. I dug in and pushed. And for the first time in four years, I made it to the top with my bum still on my bike instead of walking next to it.
Momentum is a big thing in writing novels. It takes months or years of work, and sometimes the only thing that keeps you going is watching the word count steadily increase, plodding letter by letter toward the final goal. If you get stuck and lose your momentum it’s hard to pick it back up.
And that’s kind of where I am right now. I’ve been editing and rewriting like crazy, getting Horizon Alpha ready for publication and working on a thriller for my agent. So I haven’t gotten to work on the Horizon sequel for weeks and weeks.
I’ve lost momentum.
But that happens. Life gets in the way. Sometimes things get too busy for writing time to be a priority, and sometimes other writing goals become temporarily more important.
You slow down.
You risk stopping, hopping angrily off your bike before you crash.
That’s the time for a curse word.
It’s time to shout, “F*ck momentum, just dig.” Time to push harder and gut your way up the hill. You don’t have any speed behind you to get you started. You just have to pedal like crazy no matter how bad your quads are burning, just push push push to the top.
When you get there, it’s worth the burn.
And the great thing about hills is that once you’re on top, the ride down is just coasting. Your momentum is back and you don’t have to push anymore.
Until the next big hill.