Motorcycles are a lot of fun to ride. They’re also good on gas. My BMW R1150RT gets about 50 mpg. Sure, there’s the cold, and the heat, and the rain. And it’s dangerous. Well, more dangerous than driving in a car. So they tell me. A lot of people don’t ride motorcycles because they are uncomfortable and dangerous. They drive cars.
People who ride motorcycles call cars “cages.” Cars are comfortable, and safe. The inside temperature is always the same. There is always music. You’re protected from the world outside as you watch it pass by through windows. Shielded from the ground by a steel frame and sheltered from the elements by a roof. It’s so comfortable you can fall asleep if you’re not careful. It’s sort of like watching a movie.
Movies are nice. I enjoy escaping into a good action flick or being challenged by well-done social commentary. Movies can even permanently alter culture. Force used to be something only physicists talked about. And even though I’m a physicist, when I hear The Force nowadays, I don’t think about Newtons. I enjoy movies, but movie’s aren’t real life.
Sure, riding a motorcycle is more dangerous. But does that mean it is something that should be avoided? I certainly have no desire to be killed or maimed at any time before I die (yes, I wrote it that way on purpose) but all too often in my life I’ve forgotten that life is a gift that should be embraced. I held off on buying a (street) motorcycle for years, worried that I’d get killed. A decade passed and I discovered I wasn’t getting any younger. Fear held me back. Fear of leaving my cage. When I finally took the plunge a few years ago with a BMW R1150R (loved that bike…) I did everything I could to remain safe, and I continue to be vigilant to this day. Up to now I haven’t had any problems. Yet every time I throw my leg over that saddle I remind myself that, in the words of the original War Craft, “It is a good day to die.”
Cages are safe. But do you really want to live in one? Or do you want to get out and experience the wind and the rain. The heat and the cold. Lean into a corner with the asphalt streaking under your knee at 70 miles per hour with the wind rushing by your head, reminding you every second that you are alive. Cars can’t do that.
I spend thousands of hours writing books that, like every other author, I lovingly craft, becoming intimately familiar with the characters and places that I create, then I push them out into the world for all to see. I don’t know if they will be accepted. Or if I will make any money. I’ve always dreamed of landing a big book deal – even though I’m now indie published. I’ve always dreamed of changing popular culture. And now that I’m selling some books, and reviews for Multiplayer are terrific, I keep looking for ways to push it into the broader population where word of mouth will catch hold and spread like wildfire. But in the end, I don’t know what’s going to happen.
Sometimes it seems it’d be easier to just focus 100% on a more predictable career. Something safe, like a stake in a company, or investing in the stock market. I wouldn’t be slaving over a monitor late at night when everyone else is sleeping, or watching TV, or being with their families. I wouldn’t be reviewing sales numbers on the weekend and wondering how I can affect them. Or agonizing over a sticky plot point that I can’t get right – only an author can appreciate the depths of that little private hell. I wouldn’t be doing a lot of things because I’d be back in that cage, safe and comfortable, where it’s always the same temperature, where it’s quiet, comfortable, and sleepy.