“You could use it for a planter.”
That’s what my bike restoration guy, Dean, said when he unwrapped the parts of my purple tandem last Saturday.
I’ll admit it: the bike is in rough shape. A lot of rust. The wheels are pretty much useless. There’s a weird section of the frame covered in years old masking tape, like a limb stuck for decades in a cast. But I told Dean that no matter how bad it looked, I knew my bike could be restored. If he could help me with the mechanics to make it rideable, I would do all the work necessary to remove the rust and make it shine.
As I work in my garage, steel wool in one hand and rusty fender in the other, I can’t help but laugh about how much this purple tandem really is a metaphor for my writing. Luckily no one has ever told me that my writing could be used for a planter (or to line a bird cage), but there were times I’ve had critique partners or agents tell me a manuscript is in rough shape. Early on in my writing life, I let those words discourage me. So I tucked those manuscripts away and forgot about them. They grew rusty.
Now, when I open those old files, I can see past the rust. I know there’s a story in there wanting to shine, if I’m willing to put in the hard work. Revision is my steel wool.
(Purple tandem restoration status: My steel wool and I have de-rusted the handle bars, fenders, and pedals, along with other various doo-dads; need to work on seats, the frame, and figure out what do to about replacement wheels. Hoping to have it rideable for the October launch of my dear friend, author/illustrator Lindsay Ward’s newest picture book, PLEASE BRING BALLOONS…a nighttime adventure involving a carousel, a polar bear, balloons, and maybe a certain type of bike.)
Question for you: Do you have a rusty manuscript that you’d like to restore someday?