Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I had a friend years ago who was stuck in a miserable marriage. The guy was a real loser--an alcoholic, an abuser, a real dud. "I'd like to leave him," my friend told me.

"So leave him!" I replied, ever thoughtful and helpful."I can't leave him now," she'd sigh. "I have to sell the horses first."

At first her logic made some sense. The horses were housed on their common property. They were valuable. She wanted the money. But months went by, then years. She didn't sell the horses and she didn't divorce her husband and her life continued to be miserable. I lost touch with her.

But "selling the horses" has taken on new meaning for me and Jon. It's symbolic for making excuses.
  • "I can't finish reading the manuscript until I do the taxes!"
  • "I can't call that editor until I've done more research on her!"
  • "I can't write a new blog entry until I get to the emailed queries."

All this may be true, but often we're really using the "selling horses" excuse. Of course we need to prioritize. But when we find we're using the same old stumbling block over and over again to get out of doing important work, we have to examine our motives. That old stumbling block, like my friend's rationale about selling her horses, can morph into a big, fat, comfortable and convenient dodge that prevents us from doing what we need to do.

How about you? Does the "selling horses" dodge figure in to your writing and querying? Think about it. How many times do you put off polishing that chapter because you've got to write to your mom (or mow the lawn, or paint the living room, or clean the litter box, or....) You get the idea. Lists are great and so are priorities. Just don't let "selling the horses" get in the way of finding a publisher!


Janet C. said...

I am so using this phrase. I do it all the time - and find that only when I unplug the "horses" (my downfall, internet/blogs/research) can I really focus on my writing. Thanks for the saying - and great blog post :)


Jan said...

I joined that Harpercollins site, Authonomy.I would rather be writing but the site keeps pulling me back. I'm on there reading other books and watching LAZY CATS.(by the way, I'm in 45th place after only 6 weeks) What I should be doing is working on my next book! But I'll get to it tonight..:)