For those of you who don’t know, I am actually working as a full time barn manager right now. It’s a lot of hard work, but I get to play with the horses whenever I want, so that makes it completely worth it. Yesterday I was riding a friend’s horse and ended up taking a tumble. I brushed off the dust and got back on, of course, but on the drive back home I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I realized yesterday that writing books and riding horses have a lot in common. Both can be a bit scary. There have been times when my hands shake and my heart races right before I get on a horse that intimidates me. There have been lessons where I’ve had to give my students a pep talk and then coax them into the saddle. Horseback riding is fun and invigorating and gives you a rush of adrenaline, but it can also be pretty darn scary. Writing books is the same way.
It is a different kind of fear, but fear nonetheless. Often it is the fear of failure. Thoughts like, “I’m not a good writer.” “Why am I even trying?” “This is ridiculous.” and “I’ll never get a book published.” are common and often run through my mind and the minds of many other aspiring and successful authors. But, just like with horseback riding, you have to push through that fear and just do it.
There will come a day in every rider’s life when he or she will fall off the horse. Some will find themselves flat on their backs, like I was yesterday, staring up at the sky thinking, “Wow. How’d I get down here?” Others will have more traumatic experiences, like getting thrown or stepped on or dragged. But as long as you are able, you must get back in the saddle. It is as important for the rider as it is for the horse. If you don’t get back on, the fear of falling off again will grow and grow until it is so powerful that a rider may never get back on a horse again.
Going through the writing and publishing process is much the same thing. Most writers will fail the first time they write a book. And I don’t mean fail as in “Wow you suck, never write anything again”. Writing a book is an amazing accomplishment that should be celebrated and shared, but not every book that is written has the characteristics of a book that should be published. I know my first book didn’t. But that does not mean you should give up. You have to sit back down again, pen and paper or your keyboard, and start to write. Even publisher rejections, which can feel about as painful as falling off a horse (or even more so), shouldn’t slow you down. If you are a writer, write. Never give up. If you are a rider, ride. Always get back on. Dreams are wonderful and amazing and freaking difficult to achieve, but that is part of what makes them so wonderful. So whatever it is you are aspiring to, never give up. And when you fall down, get back in the saddle.