Living in Wyoming and having grown up in northeastern Oklahoma, one might think I would be a full-blown horse woman by now. Sadly, not true. My mom, bless her sweet protective heart, felt the same way about horses that she did about motorcycles. I wasn’t allowed to ride them. When I finally did give it a try, I failed miserably and gave up. Sometimes it feels like my writing career is similar to my luck with horses.
Since I’m published, you might think I don’t have anything to complain about, but the insecurity of writers exists at all levels. Sometimes when I set out to tackle a new story or take a new turn, my horse won’t go or it throws me off. Have you ever known anyone who got bucked off a horse? They can’t walk for weeks and the trauma of being catapulted through the air and landing on your backside can create fear in some riders, especially if you’re relatively inexperienced. It can feel exactly the same way after suffering a failure in your writing, only imagine instead that you’re trying to sit your sore backside in your chair and tackle a novel. Ouch.
Maybe it’s happened to you as you’ve struggled to finish a particular story, your books sales have fallen, or you’ve received your twenty-seventh rejection. At times it’s difficult to get back in the saddle again, but you have to do it. You have to sit down, put your fingertips to the keys, and start writing again. Start submitting your work again. Start going to writing conferences again. Re-learn the world of publishing. Climb back in the saddle. If you don’t get back on the horse, you might as well take your spurs and go home.
That’s the lesson I’ve learned since my first publishing deal with a major publishing house in 2008. Since then I’ve had two novels published, but like my readers, I’ve been wondering when my third novel would finally be published. Waiting is hard. Sometimes it has felt a lot like my horse took off and left me standing in the dust. Thank heavens things are starting to change. Not only has my best friend taught me how to ride a real horse correctly (I didn’t leave the corral, but hey, I was really riding a horse, which was something I’d been afraid of doing for years.), but I’ve also signed a publishing contract with the wonderful Tule Publishing Group. You know what that means. Finally, a new book! I’m so excited. Maybe I’ll take up trick riding. (Note: I said maybe.)
If you happen to be in a tough writing situation, and almost all writers have been in one way or another, just remember that you have to be willing to get back in the saddle when you’re down and afraid of failing. Find some friends who really understand the fear or disappointment that all writers eventually face and instead of seeing your journey as a failure, see it as a change to be embraced.
Just look at me. I’m not a NYT bestseller yet, and I’m never going to be a rodeo queen, but at least I know how to write a good story and I now have a skill that not all writers have. If I were stranded on a research trip somewhere with only a horse as transportation, I would know how to ride it back home!
So, what about the rest of you? Have you overcome fears in your writing or in your life? How did you do it?