Writers often talk about imposter syndrome – the gnawing self-doubt that continues to make even successful, published authors still question their ability. And since many of us oscillate between loving and hating everything we write, it’s all too easy in the low points to feel like a complete fraud. There are plenty of times when I’ve been writing something for this blog without having actually written any fiction for months. And I find myself looking at the blank page and thinking “What right do I have to write about writing if I’m not actually writing?”
Over lockdown I’ve found myself being a whole different kind of imposter. Words have been flowing from my pen (ok, ok, poetic license – from my keyboard) and the equestrian-themed story collection for grown-ups (not a catchy title….need to come up with one of those too!) is growing apace. So what’s the problem?
During lockdown I’ve not so much as thrown a leg over my horse. I’ve taken him for a few walks. Spent a bit of quality time with him, but haven’t actually ridden. All the while lots of my horsey friends are sharing photos on Facebook of all the stuff they’re getting up to. And there’s me writing about fictional characters riding, but not daring to do it myself.
I chose not to ride given it seemed an unnecessary risk during a pandemic. I made the choice for a good reason, but it still felt cowardly. And thus I was safe, I did not put any additional stress on the NHS, but for a long time I felt like a chunk of me was missing.
I’ve ridden since I was about 10, I’ve had a horse of my own since I was 28. I have British Horse Society qualifications and have even worked at a couple of riding schools. But, much like with writing, if I’ve not done it for a bit, I always end up feeling like all this experience is erased.
This weekend I decided enough was enough. I’d had his shoes put back on, it was time to get back on the horse! Yesterday I worked him on the lunge and sat on him for a few minutes, today I did a few minutes schooling in the paddock. It might have only been a few minutes, but I feel like I’m me again.
I often wish I was the kind of fearless, live-in-the-moment type, who didn’t constantly over-think everything. But then, maybe if I was like that, I wouldn’t be a writer? So, just in case, I’ll hang on to my neuroses!
I’ll probably ache tomorrow. But hopefully if I work on my stories, I’ll now feel like a genuine horsey person while I’m doing it! 😁