They say everyone has a book in them. At least one. Of course that opens up speculation about where that book might be hiding. Some probably live in stomachs because statistics say books about cooking are a popular genre. I’ll just pause here to give you a minute to imagine the places other genres may wait unwritten…
My first book, Stable Relation, spent years pounding on the backside of my eyeballs, until I could see nothing else. I’m visual that way.
There’s no question that we all have book inside, the real question is how to get it out!
Relaxed and forward are the words that I like best to describe the foundation of the dressage training pyramid; it’s a sweet, gliding gait where there’s no resistance between a horse and rider. It’s skating on ice with no hands. It’s wide-open possibility.
I also like the words relaxed and forward to describe a personal style that I aspire to–as a trainer, a writer, and a friend. So, six years ago, Relaxed & Forward became the name of my blog, too. Although I wrote about my farm and training horses, I used my blog primarily as a tool to get back to writing. Each week I gave myself an assignment; to be poignant, or humorous, or my personal favorite, to describe something hard to describe. I’ve never missed my Friday post time, and this is where I thank the eleven people who read my blog that first year. And the number exploded by seven or eight the next year. I was that hot.
Writing alternately feels like a floating waltz or a death march. I had to make friends with grammar. It sounds like no big deal, but spell check doesn’t fix “now” when you meant to type “know.” And don’t even start with me on word tense. Here’s where I remind you that writing, riding or anything else done well, is hard work. There’s a Hollywood dream of the horse and rider who save each other, or can jump anything, or dance in unison while the Olympic theme plays in the background–it’s all just so romantic. And such a lie.
When I see that wonderful relaxed and forward ride, I always see it as an affirmation of hours of focus and concentration… and standing in muck. Listening as well as asking, back and forth, until horse and rider are of the same mind. It takes work and struggle to make something look easy and light.
So my first blogs where short and ungainly. The spark of what my writing might become was there, but it was awkward and shy. It’s who we are; introverts saying, “Hey, look at me,” and all the while covering our ears and cringing. Looking back on those early blogs is bittersweet, but as I pulled the Relaxed & Forward book together, I decided to include them, like snapshots of me with my first pony. We all have to start somewhere.
And here it is: Relaxed & Forward: Relationship Advice from Your Horse. For those of you who know my blog, now you can blog binge, mouse-free! For those of you who haven’t followed the blog, you’re in for a treat. Whether you have a horse, dog, kids, or a spouse; this stuff works–because it’s about relationship.
THIS WEEK: I’m having a good time looking at my page on Amazon and seeing two book covers (here). This time, I’m sending signed books out (link at top of page) and enjoying the personal connection. It’s fun to send them off in all directions to readers who feel like friends. And, of course, I’m back to begging for reviews. Please take a moment and post a review–Stable Relation if you haven’t already or Relaxed & Forward, when you’ve finished it, to Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble. Indie books only stay float by word of mouth, so the rest is up to you.
How does the book get outside of you? It starts with one single word on a page, standing against a wall of resistance, doubt, and common sense. You can stare at the wall or squeeze out a second word. It won’t be as good as the first one. And you know the wall has a name, but even saying it out loud is dangerous: writer’s block. It looms before your next word with big square shoulders, shaking its head. Naturally, it says nothing. It just casts a shadow on the page but with a distracting glittery spark that’s special. Like suffering for art is a higher calling.
Well, snap out of it. Art is work. And that’s the same killjoy bully that reminds you at every moment that you aren’t smart enough, strong enough, or special in any way–and he hasn’t evolved a lick since you met him in first grade.
Choose: Stare at that stupid wall or find the third word. Pick one that doesn’t fit but write it out anyway. It might be a halting rhythm at first and the line of travel may wander. Get comfortable in your seat, relax your shoulders, and take a deep breath. Push on ahead and ride a whole sentence–feel the rhythm of the stride. There’s a rocking motion as the air moves over your skin. Be still and give your bully a voice of judgment, or head for the horizon until relaxed and forward is your normal gait. Bullies be damned; let your words carry you away.