Circle the Wagons!; or, More Advice from a Besieged Writer

Steer the rattling wagons into a tight circle! Protect the women and children! Draw your six-shooters as whooping Indians on painted war ponies streak over the rise of a hill!

Look sharp, Tonto! This isn’t just a tired western stereotype, it’s a Silver-Screen Western Hero Equation!

c. 2011 es cowboylands

In reel life: Earnest pioneers moving to promised lands because of lack of opportunity in nineteenth-century America (+ free land) + marauding Plains Indians (x outrage of desecration of hunting lands and sacred places) =

(a.) massacre, which yields in the presence of a lone survivor the ripe beginnings of a classic vengeance plot


(b.) cavalry riding to the rescue, which yields in the presence of handsome leading man and handsome leading woman the immediate commencement of the classic civilizing of the west plot.

In real life it’s a little different.

Earnest writer journeying to the promised land of FinishNovelandia (+ agent [epically awesome urban cowboy x friends x writing colleagues]) + marauding job demands (rent + health care + saving + love of fine red wine) =

potential MASSACRE of all aspiring writers’ hopes and dreams!!!!!

Fear not. Grow a pair of brass…spurs and follow the wisdom of the west!

1.) Circle those wagons. Protect time and energy at all costs!

2.) Those marauding Apaches/Sioux/Comanche didn’t pop into the picture out the blue just as marauding job demands didn’t exist until you got yourself trapped. Next time, before you venture into paycheck territory, learn when to say no. Get an extension on an unreasonable schedule. Increase skillz so you can charge more for working less.

But you’re in the thick of the battle now! Arrows whizzing overhead! You’ve got two bullets left! And you’ve blown a novel deadline and been up all night to complete a paying freelance project!

3.) Hope you’re the lone survivor. Vengeance will be sweet.

4.) Or hope a super handsome cavalry officer strides up in his glossy boots to save the day, your writing life, and your novel.


I call dibs on Woody Strode!


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