Get Off Your High Horse

What the heck does it mean to  be on your high horse?

For me, being on your high horse means you’re indignant over a situation. How dare so and so expect this, say this to me or do that? I’m much better than that. Who do they think they are?  Sound familiar?

Well, maybe we don’t articulate our woes in quite that manner. Maybe we’re annoyed and hurt by something without feeling or even thinking about the reason why. We’re just annoyed, and we have a right to it. We’ve been done wrong. I mean, they write songs about this kind of thing, don’t they?

But you know what, being up there on our high horse doesn’t serve any real purpose now does it? I’ve been up there a time or two, and I can unequivocally say it never did me any good. It was a miserable, cold and lonely place to be. And I’m not all that crazy about heights if you want to know the truth.

Some years back an editor sent me some feedback on a story I’d written. I’d had problems with the story. I’ll admit that. I simply couldn’t find the voice I was going after. But I had worked my little heart out on it, and was basically being told the story wasn’t worth working on.  Ouch!  Talk about a slap in the face, an upper cut to the jaw.

When we hear something we don’t want to hear, it stings at first. Maybe more than we’re willing to admit. But then reality sets in and the hurt turns to anger. How dare this editor suggest that my story is crap! What do they know anyway? Everyone knows it comes down to personal likes and dislikes?

You climb up on your high horse and there you sit looking down at the world. For awhile you feel as though you have every right to be up there and you’re even enjoying the view. The winds blowing through your hair, feels kind of nice. You’re the injured party. You’ve been done wrong. Surely, this editor could have spared your feelings, broke it to you more gently by perhaps suggesting you take a nice long trip, all expenses paid, and leave that manuscript behind when you go.

The truth is, editors don’t say things to be mean and hurtful, and likely no matter what words they offered up would not have been the words you desperately felt you needed to hear at the time of rejection. Granted, I’ve received as few rejection in my day that had me feeling pretty darn good about my work, ones that offered some solid feedback for improvements and a whole lot of encouragement sprinkled on top, a bright red cherry too if I’m being honest.. One would like to think, that no matter what we’ve written, there is something worthwhile and salvageable. But sometimes, what we’ve written is only practice for that stunning masterpiece that is waiting for us down the road. We sometimes need to get real. If we’re serious about writing that is, and even more serious about being published. Anyone can write (at least in some fashion) but not everyone will be published. That is the reality we face, people.

So what does getting on your high horse really do for us except make us feel indignant and done wrong by, maybe even cause us to be frightened of heights?

Nothing.

It doesn’t make us feel good about our situation nor does it do anything to improve our writing. If anything it holds us back, fills us with miserable and self-defeating thoughts, that keeps us stalled in time until hopefully we get up the courage to climb back down again.

Have you ever been on your high horse over a comment an editor, or even a critique partner, made? What eventually made you get back down?

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