Trucker's Concerto
by Julie Dunham

He was pleasantly tired after a good day of driving. The truck driver was settled in his bunk, surrounded by just about everything he owned, his hands under his head, taking in the sounds of the road outside. He enjoyed listening to the traffic. It was like music; each vehicle with its own, individual pitch, harmonizing with others to produce an orchestral symphony of sound. Short bursts of one or another would stand out, then fade into the overall concert. Tonight the few vehicles played solo, and he imagined each instrument and the maestro behind the music.

The low, steady rumble of the percussion was a gravel truck, its many tires bearing their heavy load, driven by a weary father eager to get home to a hot shower and catch the end of the game on the tube, while his son fell asleep in his lap. A high-pitched string section, heard as suddenly as it was gone, was an expensive sports car, with a flashy young business man, impatient to get to his waiting friends for cocktails. Here came the woodwinds; a practical family sedan, its driver a middle-aged woman clinging to the wheel, hands at two and ten o'clock, peering over the hood, nervous until she was in her home, out of that vehicle. The brass section was played by a bus, the driver high on caffeine, the rows of seats filled with dozing passengers caught in that netherworld between departure point and destination.

The pleasant bass of the motorcycle announced itself long before it arrived. The trucker relaxed a little more, savouring this one. He pictured the lone rider, with his legs resting easy out front of him, the evening wind on his face, warm in the embrace of his leather jacket and a comfortable pair of faded blue jeans that rode up on his worn boots.

Smiling, the trucker's eyes closed, the bike now fading in the distance. Sleep drew its wand to a hushed finale.


I am a Canadian, living in the Chicago area. I was born and raised about 100 km west of Toronto, Ontario and grew up in a large family with six other siblings. In addition to my twin sister, I have two brothers and three sisters. I am the only one who has moved away.

My dad taught me to love words and to choose them carefully. He also loved to work with wood, and dabbled in illustration and painting. My mom quilts, knits, crochets and decorates cakes, among her other endeavours. For as long as can remember they each always had at least one book on the go. I inherited my love of the written word and my creativity from both of them.

My boyfriend, Frank, is an over-the-road truck driver whom I see far too little of, but we make the best of our time together and talk at least once daily. I suspect we converse more than many couples who see each other all the time.

I have been employed as a graphic artist, the manager of a graphics department, a digital press operator, the manager of a small printing business, project manager and, most recently, providing inside sales and customer service for a print company. My favourite and most relaxing job of all time was operating my own house-painting business. I was forced to shut it down while undergoing cancer treatment, but some day I hope to get back into it. I have been cancer-free now for more than six years and am happier and healthier than ever.

Q. What would you want our readers to know about you?
Some of my most creative thinking occurs while I’m riding my motorcycles. I have a sport-touring bike and it’s not uncommon for my boyfriend and me to travel in excess of 1500 km over the course of a three-day weekend, camping out each night. I recently purchased another smaller, lighter motorcycle for around town and local country roads. In a typical year I will travel 30- to 40,000 km combined on the two bikes.

Q. Do you write in a particular genre?  If so, what genre is it?
Thus far I have written only fiction. It usually parallels real life but, as they say, “Any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.”

Q.  What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Clarity of thought and expression is paramount. I love to read a line that makes me think, “Yes; that’s exactly how that feels/looks/smells!”

Q.  How do you develop your plots and characters?  Do you use any set formula?
Honestly I am so new at putting the pen to paper, so to speak, I don’t have any of this worked out. While I have always thought of the best way to phrase experiences, and have often conceptualized short stories, it’s only recently I have begun to record any of them.

Q.  What do you do to unwind and relax?
Most nights are spent enjoying a glass of wine and reading. Sometimes, if the book is especially captivating, it’s all I can do to put it down and force myself to sleep. A good book will make me late for work because, with the best of intentions, I’ll pick it up to read for a spare five minutes and, instead, fifteen or more minutes will pass. Not much is accomplished around the house when I am immersed in book.

Last summer I completed my first-ever sprint triathlon and I’m training for an Olympic-length triathlon this year. I quilt, knit and crochet and am building a radio-controlled airplane. I love to start new and different projects.

Q.  What inspires you?  Who inspires you?
Though it will sound cliché, life inspires me. This story, for instance, came to me one night as I sat at a traffic light waiting to exit the highway. Though I will research details, I tend to write about what I know. My boyfriend and twin sister encouraged me to take writing more seriously. I must admit, though, it was a high-school English teacher who planted the seed, more than twenty years ago.

Q.  Are you working on any projects right now?
There are a couple of stories I am working on. Like most of my projects, I’m better at starting than finishing. I tend to burn with a bright flame initially, and then come back and poke at the embers occasionally, never quite letting the fire go out until the cooking is finished, whenever that may be.

Q.  What is most frustrating about writing?  Most rewarding?
Knowing there’s a better word than the one I’m using, and having it elude me, is frustrating. I leave open whenever I’m writing at my computer.
It is rewarding to articulate exactly what I intend; to know a reader grasped precisely what I intended to convey.

Q.  If I were sitting down to write my very first story, what would your advice be?
Write about what you know. Then read it out loud and see if anything makes you stumble. If you do, your reader most certainly will also. And proof read both for spelling and grammar. Creativity is not license to be lazy.

Q.  What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Put your writing out there to be critiqued. Find a forum or group of other writers you respect and learn everything you can from them. Take it with a good dose of common sense, but accept criticism and improve from it. Believe in yourself and recognize some of the most prolific authors were rejected repeatedly before they were ever published. Have fun with words.

Contact Julie.

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