Saturday, October 12, 2013

You Don't Look Like a Biker

Guest Post by Deborah Nielsen

When some people find out that I ride motorcycles, the first thing they say is, “You don’t look like a biker!” Which is immediately followed by the question, “What kind of Harley do you have?” They picture the stereotypical tattooed, black-leather-clad, Harley-riding biker. I don’t fit that picture. Maybe the gray hair, professional attire, and lack of tattoos and black leather throw them off. Nor do I ride a Harley. In fact, I really don’t like Harleys. I’m more of a sport bike and scooter kind of rider.

I like cars, too. Ever since I was little, I’ve been fascinated by them. The pieces and parts, the way they drive, the feel of the interiors, the styling. The collector car lifestyle, future trends and advances in engineering are the areas I focus on. When a woman likes cars and can talk her listener into a coma about them, people often think she’s crazy. (Which she may be but that’s a different story.) A female car guy does not compute. She doesn’t fit the stereotype of a “car guy”.

One of my favorite things to do is to travel solo cross-country by motorcycle or car. I can take whatever route I want, stop whenever I want and see whatever sites I find interesting. Yes, there are risks but the rewards, to me, far outweigh traveling with someone else who may not want to take the back roads and stop to photograph the roses along the way. Independent women traveling alone, especially on two wheels, fly in the face of convention. When people find out that you’re going to take a trip by yourself, the reaction is often, “You’re traveling alone?!” And then they launch into horror stories they’ve heard. I’ve pulled into motels where the desk clerk has looked over my shoulder expecting to see another person or bike outside and when no one else appears they ask, “Are you traveling alone?” like they can’t believe it. A woman traveling alone just doesn’t fit people’s expectations.

I like to fly in the face of convention and challenge people’s expectations. I like to smash stereotypes and, hopefully, give people something to think about.

When we write, our characters often reflect our mindsets. Do your characters defy stereotypes or portray them? How much more interesting would your characters be if they, or at least a trait of theirs, flew in the face of convention and did something unexpected?


5 comments:

Susan Vittitow Mark said...

I did a bit of traveling by car by myself when I was young, and I would get a stunned reaction sometimes, too. I remember a hotel in Texas where the desk clerk put me in a room in the hall right behind the desk so she could keep an eye on things and watch out for me.

When I write fiction, I'd like to think my characters are pretty unpredictable, but I'd have to ask someone who's read it if I'd achieved that. Quite frankly, I've never really understood other humans so from my perspective, EVERYONE in real life is unpredictable.

Lynn said...

I recall a quote (don't know who said it) along the lines of "He travels fastest who travels alone." Guess that applies for a "she" as well!

Writing, itself, pretty much flies in the face of convention to much of the world. Sitting in a room alone, making up things about imaginary characters... yeah, that qualifies.

In revision, particularly, I try to find ways that my characters defy the norm, even if it's just a small detail in the way they dress or talk. Rural characters get stereotyped a lot in fiction, I think, so I try to mess with the reader's expectations. GOOD POST!

abbiescorner said...

A woman traveling alone across the country on a motorcycle, now that sounds like good material for a novel or memoir. Have you ever thought of writing about your experiences other than on this blog? Happy travels.

Deborah Nielsen said...

Thanks for your comments and insights ladies. I just got off the road and am trying to catch up on things. Spent the last two weeks driving to Orlando for a big motorcycle expo while sightseeing through the southeast. Almost 4500 miles on the Ruby Subie which is now covered in bugs, road construction mud and drops of cow manure from passing cattle trucks.

I listened to the locals talk as I sat in restaurants along the way. Hearing their accents and speech patterns may help my dialogue (which I'm not so good at). Eavesdropping on their stories was sometimes quite entertaining. It's a lot easier to listen in when you have a magazine open. :)

Abbiescorner: you're not the first person who has suggested this; I'm beginning to think I ought to seriously look into doing something like this. Thanks for the suggestion and support.

Deborah Nielsen said...

Thanks for your comments and insights ladies. I just got off the road and am trying to catch up on things. Spent the last two weeks driving to Orlando for a big motorcycle expo while sightseeing through the southeast. Almost 4500 miles on the Ruby Subie which is now covered in bugs, road construction mud and drops of cow manure from passing cattle trucks.

I listened to the locals talk as I sat in restaurants along the way. Hearing their accents and speech patterns may help my dialogue (which I'm not so good at). Eavesdropping on their stories was sometimes quite entertaining. It's a lot easier to listen in when you have a magazine open. :)

Abbiescorner: you're not the first person who has suggested this; I'm beginning to think I ought to seriously look into doing something like this. Thanks for the suggestion and support.

Share a Post