Portable Novel Writing on a Bicycle

Five years ago when I decided to go GREEN and give up my car for a bicycle, the biggest problem was no longer being able to carry all the accoutrements of writing with me at all times.  There is only so much room in even the largest of bicycle panniers and priority has to be given to rain gear, bottled water, CO2 cartridges in case of a flat tire, spare bungee cords, wallet, and emergency ID tags.

Even if there had been room for the laptop computer, notebooks, journal, maps, GPS, big honker DSLR camera, smaller portable camera, tripod, spare lenses, and three different novels that I was reading simultaneously, the panniers would have been so heavy I wouldn’t have been able to lift it onto the bike or drag it into a restaurant or lug it around while shopping.

Something, actually many things would have to go.  Through trial and error, I jettisoned things, added them back, threw them out again, and then finally settled on a collection of items that made it possible, at the drop of a bicycle helmet, to be knee deep in writing.

Enter the beloved index cards.  I am certain that index cards were invented with me in mind.  I’m also certain that I could solve world hunger and balance the U.S. budget if I only had enough index cards and brightly colored pens.

The deal was sealed when I found a coupon holder at Target for a mere $4.48 that neatly held 200 4X6 index cards.  That was enough to cover my projected 85 novel scenes and their rewrites as well as an ample amount for character notes and new ideas.

The collection of items pictured above weighs a mere 1.8 pounds and provides instant access for those moments of inspiration to be captured.  Over lemon-pepper tilapia, rice pilaf, and sauted spinach at Denny’s Restaurant yesterday, I was able to finally stop shuffling the index cards and write the first 897 words of my novel, “Not on Your Tintype.”

“When your ears are tuned to listen for the subtle footsteps of a jaguar or the slithering of a thirty foot Anaconda snake in the Brazilian rainforest, the sounds of an international airport are jarring and violent enough to induce pain, nausea, and vertigo.”

Okay, okay.  Relax.  So it’s not Steinbeck.  Yet.  Just give me enough index cards and enough colored pens and some Yanni plugged into my ears and it will be.