Annie: I’ve heard you help people with horse problems.
Tom Booker: Truth is, I help horses with people problems.
From The Horse Whisperer
Today we begin to find useful ways to deal with our creative U-turns, how to even turn them into the great opportunities in disguise they might be.
The first step of course, is to acknowledge them. “To recover from a creative U-turn,” writes Julia, “or a pattern involving many creative U-turns, we must first admit that it exists. ‘Yes, I did react negatively to fear and pain. Yes, I do need help.’”
I love her next metaphor, because as a young girl, I was a horse nut (okay, so what young girls, and many boys, haven’t ever had at least a small love affair with horses? You remember Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, National Velvet, and everything Walter Farley ever wrote, right?).
So she writes, “Think of your talent as being a young and skittish horse that you are bringing along. This horse is very talented but it is also young, nervous, and inexperienced.” [And, it maybe got a bit traumatized when it was shipwrecked with young Alec on that deserted island bound from India. – B.]
“It will make mistakes, be frightened by obstacles it hasn’t seen before. It may even bolt, try to throw you off, feign lameness. Your job, as the creative jockey, is to keep your horse moving forward and to coax it into finishing the course.”
In other words, we don’t try to break our wild, spirited artist selves. That wild, independent streak is integral to our creativity. So we must become Artist Whisperers.
Julia advises that first, we take a good long look at what jumps make our artist so skittish. “You may find that certain obstacles are far more scary than others,” she reassures us. “An agent jump may frighten you more than a workshop jump. A review jump may be okay while a rewrite jump scares your talent to death.”
It might help to remember that smart horse trainers often put a green horse in with more experienced ones who are working through the paces desired. Once in the slipstream, the older, steadier, more seasoned horses calm down the fear level. They demonstrate that what the younger horse is being asked to do is not scary, but a welcome chance to show off!
So with this idea, do you know anyone that has an agent? Can you ask them how they got one? (Please bear in mind that while it would be a fabulous gesture, don’t expect them to share theirs, or make the contact for you; but they can at least point you in the right direction.)
Do you know anyone that has survived a savage review? Can you ask what they did to heal themselves?
What are your scary jumps? What makes you skittish and stubborn? How would you describe your ideal whisperer? Maybe we can help one another. Please share! And keep trotting along!