When I first started writing for THUNDER PRESS I had a skewed idea of what being a motojournalist meant. I envisioned lots of riding, of course, but tempered the road dawg life with a mental image of something a bit romantic and, perhaps, unrealistic. I imagined scribbling endless stories on bar napkins while holed up in a dive bar waiting for inspiration to come riding up on a greasy old Panhead with a sleeping bag strapped to the sissy bar. I didn’t really consider things like word count, page count, deadlines, or advertising. All I wanted to do was chase the white lines into the always expanding horizon and tell about the adventures that came from making new friends while seeing the world from the back of a motorcycle. And there’s been a lot of that, actually. But the biggest part of a motojournalist’s job is the grown up part: the responsibility part. The job of telling another’s story in such a way that is factual and accurate, and respectful enough that you don’t have to spend your time looking over your shoulder for someone who wants to sock you in the eye for airing their dirty laundry. It’s all about checks, balances and truths sprinkled with just enough fluffy stuff to make it interesting. And it’s work. Regardless of how much fun there is or how much road ahead of you, weather in the way or wild times to be had, there are always the words to be written. And that’s just when reality and responsibility comes along to f**k up the whole rest of the wet dream, because sometimes words are really hard to find. Personally, I chase words around all the time. Paragraphs are known to pop into my head like a platoon on a mission and, often, by the time I get them out of my head and onto paper, half the troop has disappeared into the dark recesses of my grey matter. Meanwhile, editors watch the calendar and the clock and wonder where I am, or when my little piece of the puzzle is going to show up so the rest of the rag can be put to bed. Sometimes the joy of sitting in a tent, listening to the wind softly blow through the quiet forest is so mesmerizing that it’s impossible to do anything but lay in the sleeping bag and count your blessings. Knowing that the twisty two lane just beyond your tent is waiting to welcome you and your bike seems so much more important than the fact that going to press means waiting for your last 800 words. And so all this is why I trudge up to the local pub to plug in the electronics and try to make the words flow. I’ve been making the same trek for the last three days of my week-long camping trip since it’s the only practical place with power but today I find myself sitting on the campground’s bathroom counter at 3:00 a.m. since there’s an outlet here, too.
Two days ago a basketball game was blaring at the pub, locals were drinking and I was busily blocking out the world while tapping on my keyboard when it suddenly dawned on me that maybe that original image of a motojournalist’s life isn’t really that far off after all. I stare out the window and wonder if there are any guys who ride around on greasy old chopped Panheads with sleeping bags anymore. It’s about that time a guy on a purple Road King pulls up. He has a sleeping bag, but he also has a stereo blaring Donna Summers and is zipped into red leathers. I know instantly he’s not the guy I want to provide the inspiration I’ve been looking for. About that time a 20-something girl stops and points her finger at me. “Is your name Evelyn?” she asks. I shake my head. “But you are the writer, right?” I nod. “Yeah, I’ve heard about you. My boyfriend wants to be you, actually.” I shrug and give a tilted headed, “Really?”
“Yep, he wants your job. He says it’s exactly what he wants to do. Traveling all over the place, riding a bike, getting to see the world? Yeah, he wants to do that. He wants to be you. You’ve got the perfect life and you’re who he wants to be when he grows up.” She giggles. I tell her it’s not really as easy as it sounds; it’s really a lot of work and isn’t for everyone. She laughs at me. “He doesn’t care about any of that. He said he’d trade me in for a Harley to do it, even.” I dig in my pocket for my editor’s e-mail address. That guy is exactly who we need.