Making It Up as You Go Along

La Crosse, Wisconsin

Phil Neumark, who’s cycling across the country and shepherding me as I accompany him for a few days, doesn’t like the noise and traffic on main roads. So he looks for state and county roads that go through towns and have more picturesque views. This requires him to supplement his map for the day by improvising, and asking for directions on which roads to take and where to stop for lunch.

People are always impressed with Phil’s mission and are as helpful as they can be.  They aren’t always right, which can mean climbing hills in vain, asking for more directions, and climbing the hills again to get back on the right route. But then, an adventure is what happens when things go wrong.

I had my first flat ever not long after leaving St. James, where we had stopped for lunch. It was on the rear tire which is harder to fix. Phil was too far ahead of me to help. Left to my own devices, had enough time elapsed, passing motorists would have spotted my bones, like a steer that didn’t make it, next to the bike. But the first vehicle I waved to, driven by Kathy and Laurie, two angels in distress, gave me a lift to our hotel in Mankota.

Writing and building a career involves asking for help and improvisation: choosing the right idea, word, agent, publisher, and ways to reach your readers. Not of your choices will work, but keep asking for advice and improvising, and you’ll get where you want to go. Assume that you will back into accomplishing your goals by trying alternatives that don’t work. What you will have left are the right choices for you.

Stay loose!

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