Monday, February 05, 2007

Gallop on at the Middle

A very wise and get-to-the-point British woman I know gave me a pearl of wisdom when I was seventeen. She said "Gallop on at the Middle." I used to compete in three-day events, the equestrian sport where you gallop your horse over solid obstacles on a cross country course. So she meant, quite literally, for me to gallop on at the middle of the fence. A rider doesn't think. She acts. But Mrs. O's words, they echo in my mind when I'm nervous, I'm intimidated. It's all about throwing your heart over a fence and hoping your body follows. Same with writing. Same with writing when you share work in a writer's group. It's trusting you're going to make it to the other side.

Writing, alas, is, at times more thinking, reflecting, re-reading, re-wording. For me anyways, not enough galloping on at the middle. But every now and then, I read a book, put it down halfway through and think: "Wow, this author had courage." It happens when I am blown away by a cool concept, a plot turn. You know the moments.

When sharing work with writer's group - especially the first six months or so - I used to turn to jelly when it was my turn to share work; I'd melt into one of Amy's lovely dining room chairs. Now I know it's because I had little control. Or none, actually, over what my writing friends might say. I have learned that I needed to trust that they would help me on this road to becoming a writer. What I needed was courage. To give them my pages. To take their feedback. To trust that they would help me.


Michelle Zink said...

Few things are as frightening as putting your work, and therefore, yourself, out there.

Finding a group of people you can really trust is the crux of it, and that part's not so easy. It's wonderful that you have found such an amzing group of freinds and writers...

We should all be so lucky!

Thanks for the post!

ORION said...

This is brilliant!
From one eventer to another (yes we have combined training here in Hawaii!)
I think of this very thing when I do my first drafts. During editing the same problem I have over fences plagues me -- I hear George Morris' voice in my head,"Slow down and see your distance!"
There's room for both in writing.

Therese said...

Building courage is essential, hard as it is.

Then we're more prepared for the criticism we'll endure from people who review our books!

Impending publication is a big fence to face; we have to believe we're on a good horse when we get there, and good critique members, agents, and editors help that happen.

It's still scary to throw ourselves over that one (I know it is for me, as my first-ever pub date draws nearer). I take heart knowing I'm not alone in feeling anxious, so thanks for sharing here!