My Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructors hammered a phrase home: “You go where you look.”
It reminded me a bit of the old saying “keep your eyes on the prize,” but the difference is you can actually feel the motorcycle maxim at work every time you turn. If you’re not looking at where you want to be, you’re going to end up off course because your body tends to steer a bike toward where you’re looking. If you’re negotiating a turn and you’re looking at the shoulder instead of through the turn, then you’re going to take a ride on the shoulder.
Better hope there’s no gravel.
I got to thinking about that again the other night, and I had a Zen moment: maybe I’ve stopped looking at my writing goal.
I’m focused on my karate, and things are going very well. I’m focused on my family, and that, too, is going very well. Even my job is going well. My writing, however, has been very slow of late. Sure, I’ve had a few small triumphs, with Deadliest of the Species hitting the German market and another sale still to be announced, but I haven’t achieved my ultimate goal of having a steady stream of work hitting the shelves.
Maybe I’ve stopped looking. I’ve let other things distract me, and now I’m off on the shoulder somewhere. To break it down further, maybe I’m spending too much time looking at RSS feeds and surfing the web and not enough looking at that word processor window.
I’ve surrounded myself with the tools, no doubt about that. For example, all of my computers are armed with OpenOffice.org or NeoOffice. I carry my Moleskine just about everywhere I go. I recently bought a new lap desk for writing notes in the car. I’ve got this blog and I do the whole social networking thing. I’ve got a printer when I need it, access to plenty of reference materials, and of course email for corresponding with editors, publishers, and colleagues (not to mention the few fans I hear from). I even rented a post office box the other day because I’ve been getting signature requests. I’ve also got more time than ever this summer, because working in education rocks hard.
In short, I’ve got my new bike and I’ve got my metaphorical writing bike. Now I need to spend more time looking at the destination for my writing career. I have a good idea of where that destination is, I just need to do a better job of aiming for it.
Right after I swim with my kids for a little while. ;)
About Mike Oliveri
Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. His Bram Stoker Award-winning first novel, Deadliest of the Species, was just reprinted by Evileye Books.