Horse Sense

This morning, Blaze and I circled around barrels, zigzagged through an obstacle course, and made tight corners around poles. I’m not yet confident of my horseback riding skills, so I was concentrating hard during my lesson. On the other hand, Blaze kept getting distracted by the other horses and an occasional strong wind. He tossed his head, danced around, and went far faster than I wanted him to go. And to tell you the truth, I got scared.     

Back at the stables, I asked my riding instructor how I could control the horse better the next time I felt myself panic. She explained that Blaze and I were exchanging nervous energy, which made us both ineffective on the ride.     

“Next time you’re afraid,” she said, “just go back to the basics. Remember to use the skills that you know. There may be times when you aren’t able to control your horse, but you’re always in control of yourself and your own fears.”     

Driving home, I thought about how this riding lesson also applies to my novice adventures in writing Young Adult fiction. The class I’m taking is putting me through my paces; I’m definitely testing my skills. When my dialogue falls flat, deadlines are looming, and my plot line’s spinning out of control … well, to tell you the truth, I get scared. But next time I panic, I’ll try to remember that I am a competent writer who knows the basics, and that I have what it takes to control my own fears.


  1. Sounds like you’re a far better rider than you admit!!
    And Blaze is a pretty name for a horse!
    Good luck on the YA novel…it might be daunting but at least it won’t buck you off if you sit on it, lol!

  2. I hate it when my characters exchange their nervous energy with me. They’re like, “I wouldn’t say that.” Or “I’m not supposed to do that yet.” Or “I had green eyes.” And then they’re right and rub it in my face. “I told you so.”

    Then I remember I’m the writer, and they haven’t taken over the novel, yet. Or maybe they have and I don’t know it, in which case, should I be scared? I don’t know.

    • I actually love it when characters “take” the novel. Then you really know you’ve created living, breathing individuals with their own minds. Chuck the outline and you let them show you just where the story will go.

      • I actually love it too. That’s what I meant when I said “hate.” It’s like how I hate it when Lakers’ games go right down to the wire and I’m scared to death the whole time that they’re gonna blow it. I hate it like that. It’s the greatest.

  3. This is generally, very good advice. It does not apply to scuba diving however. (Don’t try it)

    You are set to go with the basics lined up and ready at your disposal. The journey is what’s wonderful, because you learn so much from so many along the way. The only advice I’d give you, and I think you already do this, so you can let this slip in one ear and out, is to be as open to crits as you can. Look at everything everyone suggests because there’s usually a kernel of truth SOMEWHERE in their words, even though it might be painful or difficult to see from your persepective.

    That’s usually when you make the most progress, and when your writing goes to the next level.

  4. What a great analogy!

    Having been a rider in a past life, this makes total sense to me. I used to get so nervous before a jump that I’d lose control of everything. My horse and I would be so jumbled coming up to the fence that we’d be lucky to make it over without me falling off. Unfortunately, I took my share of posts in the stomach until I learned one simple thing: confidence. Once I let myself have confidence in my ability to make it over the fence, everything else followed. I find that is true every time I sit down to write, too.

    Thank you for letting me extend your metaphor!

    • Anonymous

      Re: What a great analogy!

      Oh, cool — another thing we have in common. Except I NEVER want to jum on a horse! I’m working on developing the confidence to take a horse through land-oriented maneuvers, no major hooves-off-the-ground stunts for me!

      But when it comes to writing, however, I really want to learn how to fly.

      Thanks for weighing in on this metaphor. Your idea helps me with my writing, as well.

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