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Like Riding A Bicycle

Cliche alert! Cliche alert!

Wait. No, not really. Not that one about how if you jump on a bike years after you learned, you can pick it up easily again. I'm talking about learning to ride a bike. Embarrassing story time! Gather 'round.

When I was a wee half pint, my uncle bought me a bicycle. Metallic blue with a banana seat and a flowery basket on the front. This is in the days before they even made helmets and safety pads (I'm joking, but in the part of the world where I grew up, we didn't believe in such things). Riding with training wheels--easy. Learning to ride without--difficult. The summer I got my bike, we went on vacation. To a camp ground. In a camper. We had electric and flushing toilets and all that, so we were hardly roughing it. The roads were even paved. Well, you can imagine a clumsy seven-year-old and her first bike sans training wheels and no safety devices within 25 miles. Boom, little girl hits pavement, loses some elbow skin and gives up bike riding FOREVER.

Because the patch of land where I grew up is one giant hill with a semi-busy highway beneath it, learning to ride a bike wasn't really a priority anyway. Until I turned 14. I got it in my head that I wanted to ride one. So I dug out the old bike my uncle gave me and learned to ride, just like a big girl! And then it happened. Riding down a paved driveway (did I mention the town I grew up in is set in a valley with big hills?), down a hill and the brakes failed. Not those nice hand brakes, the kind where you have to peddle backwards. The front tire hit a rock and I went sailing into the wild blue yonder. I skidded five feet on my face. And wound up with three stitches in my lip. The scar isn't bad, but I'm not real proud of it either. Aww, I learned to ride a bike and got my first stitches.

But I didn't quit. I didn't get back on a bike until I got a new one which was at Christmas, but I kept on riding and I got good enough to turn corners without using my hands. I had a bike until I graduated college.

The point of my uber-embarrasing story is this: I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 14, but I didn't quit when I got stitches. I got my new bike with awesome hand brakes and set out to conquer smaller hills.

Today I intended to send out query letters. I've picked five agents I'm interested in. I read and reread their preferences on how to send these e-mails. When I went outside this morning, I had a flat tire. No, not on my bicycle! On my car. And I said, 'Gee, Allison, this might not be your day.'

So today is not the day even though it's two days past the day I said I was actually going to send my queries, but hey, it took me seven years to get on a bicycle. I think I can manage to send them before seven years go by. My point is: don't quit. You might not have what it takes right this second, but the time is coming. When you get an idea in your head, hang on to that tight and push through your fears. You'll be rewarded in the end (but hopefully not with stitches).