“Cowgirl up” is an expression that means to rise to the occasion, not to give up, and to do it all without making excuses.
This phrase resonates with me since the inspiration for my first novel was my cowgirl grandmother. To me, it means having the courage to do the hard thing, to follow your dream. You don’t have to have a horse, live on a ranch or in the West to “cowgirl up.”
It takes courage to write. We are all born with a certain measure of creativity, but as we grow up, learn “responsibility” and “decorum” or have our creative efforts shot down, we stifle that urge. After all, very few make a living at writing—you’d better have a plan to fall back on, like teaching or nursing or business.
We’ve probably all heard someone tell about an early writing effort that was shot down by a teacher or family member. “You can’t write.” “You don’t have any talent for that.” That, to me, is criminal! It takes courage to overcome that squashing.
I’d been writing in various forms since I learned the alphabet, and later received a degree in journalism, wrote for newspapers and magazines. But there came a time in my life when it was necessary to take a job to help put food on the table when my husband and I were starting a new business. The job was as far from creative as I could get. After thirteen years and horrific burn-out, I was once again asking myself “What do I want to be when I grow up?” It had been so long since I’d written anything that I doubted I could do it anymore. My creative well was dry.
A friend invited me and several others to help her practice a women’s empowerment seminar she was to teach. Among other exercises, this included pairing up with someone and telling your life story as a fairy tale. I was scared to death. I can’t do this, I thought.
I closed my eyes, willed my hands to stop sweating and my voice to stop shaking. I dredged the depths of my mind and called upon all the courage I could, and I started to tell a fairy tale. It started out haltingly, then it began to flow. The feeling of euphoria followed me home and I couldn’t wait to put the story down on paper.
I still knew how to write!
So, this is for you: if you’ve thought about writing, but don’t think you can; if your efforts have been shot down, or if you’ve dabbled a little just for yourself but would like to try to get published. I encourage you to try. Start a journal. Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Write for yourself or your children. Take a writing class. Find a mentor or creative group to join.
-------------------A native Montanan, Heidi Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. She has had her first novel published, Cowgirl Dreams, based on her grandmother. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.