Ski Jump 3

I didn’t learn to ride a bicycle until I was nine, and even then only because my inability was starting to embarrass my brothers. It was a skill everyone should have by the time they hit first grade, and somehow I’d made it to third grade as clueless about bicycle riding as I was about just about everything else. So I’m pretty sure that when my oldest brother set out to teach me, it was because People Were Starting to Talk.

The streets in our neighborhood formed a steep bowl, with our house at the bottom. Mike stood there watching me roll and jerk somebody’s bike (it can’t have been mine; I never had one of my own till I was an adult) around and around the three-house-wide flat place, offering encouragement and a bribe of one black jelly bean for each time the pedals made a full circuit without me having to put a foot down. We probably went half an hour without him having to promise more than a half dozen jelly beans. The rhythm went something like:

Pedal, flump.
Pedal, flump.
Pedal, flump.
Pedal pedal, flump. “Hey, that’s great! You earned another black jelly bean!”
Pedal, flump.
Pedal, flump.
Pedal, flump.

Half an hour, maybe a full hour, of near-total failure.

But those black jelly beans kept my attention on the job, and eventually the bike stayed up for two, three, ten pedal rotations. Then, finally, my brother let me put whoever’s bike away, because he already owed me 69 jelly beans and his allowance was limited.

Actually, he never paid up. I sometimes still give him a hard time about this. But I’m still riding, probably a lot more frequently than the average 54-year-old female.

I’m hoping for the same effect with this year’s writing goal: 100 rejections. This was not my idea; I heard about it from Katya the Poet, who heard about it from somebody else. The idea is to send out enough submissions to receive an average of two rejections a week throughout 2012.

And no, it’s not fair to send out some truly despicable peom like Bastard Child of Emily Dickinson to a hundred classy literary journals. Nuh-uh. The submissions have to have some plausible chance at acceptance. I am, however, going to count contest losses and agent disinterest in my book or books.

It’s going to be tough, but I’m betting all those pedal, flumps will at least make for a whole lot of practice.


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