Look Where You Want To Be

I’ve been rereading Jeff VanderMeer’s Booklife recently, and trying to apply the things to my life in my own way. In doing so, I’m actually giving name to the ways I already protect myself and my creativity.

There’s an old piece of riding wisdom that I use to guide the majority of my life: “Keep your eyes ahead of the horse. Where you’re looking is where you will end up.”

It’s true, too. Look downwards, your entire body tells the horse to slow down, and you’ll be caught by surprise if there’s an obstacle. Look to the side, you’ll lean that way. Look ahead though, and you’re seeing the obstacles before they get there, the best path to your goal. Your entire body is gathering, transmitting subtle signals to the horse to go go go! It’s already composing itself to be there, not here. In a way, it’s a little like living in the future and existing in the present.

That advice has stood me well! I make plans based on what information and resources are on hand at the moment. I have the next 5 years planned out. I have a mental image of the ultimate goal. I don’t know precisely how I’ll get there, and I try not to commit to anything too strenuously. Flexibility is key for anyone in an environment a stressful and changeable as ours.

Be a ship: Let the winds of change propel you, but control your own course. Spend time conceptualizing where you want to be, and believe that you can be there. Ask yourself why you want to be that future self. Make sure it’s for your own reasons. You should be choosing the path. Go where you want to go, not where someone else wants to go.

In my experience, that’s the best part of Booklife: the whole; the joy that comes from being right where you want to be.


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  1. Erika Holt
    30/03/2011 at 8:12 pm Permalink

    It’s easy to lose sight of one’s goal, I think, and get pulled off-course. Thanks for this reminder! (And great analogy–so, so true!)

  2. Ben Godby
    30/03/2011 at 8:26 pm Permalink

    Ah, but: how can you get joy from being right where you want to be, when where you want to be is always ahead of where you are?

    Personally, I attempt to rein in, as much as possible, my own looking-ahead in order to enjoy my Being A Writer – instead of salivating after, and stressing over, my (Not) Being a Famous Writer, (Not) Being a Professional Writer, and other states of being I would like to be but presently be-not.

    Still, I don’t rein in my desires THAT much. You’ve got to be (there’s that copula again) forward-looking to succeed!


  3. Sandra Wickham
    30/03/2011 at 9:24 pm Permalink

    I love this!

    I often forget while looking “down” at my novel so much, (despairing in the amount of work it is etc), that it’s a long term goal to be a novelist and once and awhile I need to look up and ahead to a bright future. 😉

    Thanks for this.