I’ll start by saying I have no experience of horseback riding. In fact I touched a horse for the first time a few months ago.
But I grew up understanding that if you ride a horse, it’s not “if you fall off” but “when you fall off.” And particularly if you fall off and are seriously hurt, you need to get back on as soon as you can. Otherwise the fear of it will grow in your mind, and make it impossible to get back on.
The problem, which is similar to my problem with driving, as my vision went wonky slowly over a long time and brain internalized “driving is panic-inducing because we’re not sure where side streets are” before I realized I wasn’t seeing properly, is when you slowly “fall of the horse.”
Because then your fear of getting back on isn’t quite fear, but a bolus of “I forgot how to; I got out of the habit; and of course the back of the head “but this failed last time.”
In my case, getting back on the writing horse is being complicated by the cold that descended end second week of January, and has been around since, with occasional moments of peeking above and being almost normal. Given that we have a ton of stuff to do for house/wedding/writing and that I get maybe two good hours work in, before I just want to sleep. Then another two hours…
The house is a pigsty, novel is almost two weeks late, I’m finishing seriously overdue short story, and I just want to sleep.
I’m also likely to be cranky as I force myself to work. Because don’t wanna, that’s why.
BUT that’s a passing complication (hopefully. Infections can wind up my auto-immune and then we’re in the bucket.) I got worried at how it dragged and went to doctor, and he said nah, that’s the pattern this year, and no, it’s not flu, for which I was vaccinated, but either a singularly resistant bacteria or a string of bacteria one after the other, which is not unusual. Bacteria, I say, not virus, because the antibiotic IS working. I know because as time approaches for it, I start feeling worse. Anyway… that’s the current battle and why I feel more cranky than usual.
The other part of the battle is more long term.
Since it’s not the first time this has happened, I’ve found there are steps to climbing back on that horse:
first, I have to establish the habit. This is proving difficult mostly because of interruptions to discuss wedding details, or what we’re doing about x in the house (which looks like a construction zone, as we’re incrementally replacing the flooring.)
Second, I have to get back in practice. This matters because the book currently under construction, I keep tripping on newby mistakes that I haven’t made in years. However, as I was telling husband who is — thank heavens — also writing again (having stopped at being discouraged by watching my career. Euclid was written in 2001. And not having managed to get himself back on the horse, even with indie, till now.) when you come back after severe illness, as both of us are (mine more severe than his, and his stopping really was discouragement at my career more than the illness. Because he thinks I walk on water. So if I was getting slapped down every turn, what chance did HE have. Yeah.) you have to re-learn. It’s just that you learn way faster.
So I’ve been doing that. If I could stop being annoyed when I stumble it might help.
Third, the fear of failure. Yeah. Well, the sale over Christmas (the ebook sale, not the physical book. Yes, I’ll mail books this week. Sorry. I’ve been so fricking sick, I keep forgetting everything and am afraid to package things to mail. One of you will end up with a carefully wrapped cat or something.) made around 2500 and that helped me get over the fear nothing will sell. Of course, that was a really, really, really low price sale. So… we’ll see. But I have to write before I see.
The point of all this, other than talking about my difficulties like an old lady, or a not so old tries-to-be lady who is feeling seriously run down: you have to get back on the horse.
Someone recently here said that the best predictor of success was a previous string of failures at the same endeavor or a similar one.
They’re not wrong.
Now there’s things you do in life, that you were never that invested in. For instance, I bought a bunch of goose eggs to attempt carving (yes, in my copious spare time. Also shut up) and so far my attempts have been startlingly unsuccessful. I might continue trying. Or not. It’s not something I’m invested in heart and soul, or something I want to make money out of. It’s more “it’s interesting.”
Then there’s intermediate. I’ve always had an hankering to do art, but I gave it up at 14, partly because the materials were too expensive and writing was cheaper. It came back with a vengeance after concussion when I was 40. I still enjoy doing old fashioned art, with paper and charcoal, and have this dream, one day, when I have more time and money (AKA when the boys are fully off the paycheck. G-d willing in a year and four months, but who is counting) to go out to the Natural History Museum once a week (Uber, hence the money. Driving IN Denver is insane and anyway in winter I can’t, not and stay at the museum for appreciable time, because I’m night blind.) with my pad and charcoal and draw dinosaur skeletons and dinosaurs.
BUT DAZ 3-d produces acceptable covers (particularly when combined with Filter Forge) and it allows me to scratch that itch without spending time on it as a hobby. It also helps get oh, yeah, covers, without taking a few more years of classes. Which, frankly, is very handy.
Anyway, that horse threw me down a bunch of times, including my spending a couple of months rendering naked people with no hair. Oh, and the month of weird contortions.
It’s better now, and improving, but again, since I can make covers out of it, it’s totally worth the time I spent. (And money we’re about to spend for a better rendering computer. OUCH.)
Writing OTOH is non-negotiable, because I always wanted to be a writer. And giving up would be like dying a little. It’s part of me, part of what makes me me. Giving up is dying a little.
And it’s thrown me a bunch of times, but I have to keep getting back on. Because accepting defeat is accepting dying a little.
If you have something similar, something you always wanted — no, needed — to do, something that forms an integral part of your personality, if that thing is neither immoral nor illegal, and if you’ve failed at it before, it’s time to get back on the horse.
Yes, I know, things hurt, and you flinch from the pain and you’re tired and old and–
But it’s time to get back on the horse. Because you don’t have any other choice. Because this thing is who you are. And the best predictor of success is multiple previous failures.
So, there’s that.
Now, up on the saddle.