Writing Stable Relation, my first book, took me sixty years, give or take. Okay, I exaggerate, but I had anxiety about wanting to write it almost that long. When I finally sat down, stopped wishing and started doing, it was only a year to write and another year to edit. It was heavy work, every word had to be cajoled and coaxed, then rearranged, then edited to within an inch of its life. For fear I would jinx my dysfunction, I didn’t talk about it with friends. It was all pit bulls and chainsaws and whiskey neat. It was writing a book, for crying out loud. I worked the graveyard shift, separate from the world. It felt daunting and impossible but the poking wouldn’t stop. There was something that had to be shared and it always started, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” but that had been taken by Dickens. Which brings us to the real issue. What could you possibly have to say in the shadow of authors you have worshipped all your life.
Perhaps a bit dramatic? Dreams this hard-cooked will most certainly act out in a predictably awkward way, especially for an introvert.
THIS WEEK: For new readers, I started this blog to have a place to talk about books and writing, separately from the place I continue to write the horse stuff here. It’s was folly. Things have stayed in neat piles exactly like they do in my underwear drawer.
The new book, Going Steady, More Relationship Advice from Your Horse, takes up where Relaxed & Forward, left off with bite-sized essays on affirmative horse training, rescue stories, and “gray mare” thoughts geared toward encouraging creative, affirmative partnerships. I use clear descriptions, a joy of storytelling, and some sideways humor to inspire meaningful, positive communication. Sometimes irreverent but always honest and horse-centric. Doesn’t the line between horses and life get a bit more transparent all the time? I expect the book to be available in September. I think the cover is beautiful. My book designer dresses words up well, doesn’t she?
Writing has gotten a bit addictive and now, on the brink of the release of my fifth book, I worry that maybe it’s gotten too comfortable. All sleeping dogs, smudged glasses pushed high on my nose, and lukewarm limeade. No crazy hours. It isn’t the same as complacency; it’s more like finding the perfect place to think.
Have I become an old hand at writing, like one of those squinty-eyed newspapermen in black and white movies? Am I jaded and sarcastic, banging away on an old typewriter? Or maybe I’m more like a kid that can’t quit a computer game, playing under the table through dinner. Which character is me?
Do you have a call to write? Because we need your voice more than ever. If I could encourage anyone who’s wanted to write for as long as I did, it would be the knowing, beyond stale advice, that it gets easier. Whatever costume you like, just start. The distance between a dream and a habit is the moment we write ourselves into a character who is a writer, who then writes about people like her with behaviors that are familiar and recognizable. We tell the story because it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Thanks, as always, for your time reading.
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Award-winning author of four books, almost five.
40 thoughts on “Authorblog: A New Book. Does It Count If I Haven’t Suffered Enough?”
OMG (as I’ve learned to say in the new language of the day), tears welled when I got to the part about wanting to write! I am smack-dab in the middle of a humongous transition right now, at age 71, and I don’t use that word lightly. “Huge” didn’t feel big enough!
I somehow believe that there’s inspiration to be shared, not to do what I’m doing, necessarily, but to know that there’s always another chapter, even if you have yet to turn the page. Once again, you have inspired me with your openness and the truth as you speak it (the last time was when you inspired me to stop dying my old gray hair!) I may even have to bite the bullet and get on FB if it’s necessary to partake of your new class…:-(
Oh Susan, exactly. Always another chapter and these days, technology (a bitter pill) makes it easier than ever. Looking forward to your words, thanks, Susan
One writing question: is it common that I wince when I realize I misspelled “dyeing” as “dying” in my comment, or is that my failed perfectionism and not what writers typically do? (Although the connection between the two words is not lost on me!)
Can’t wait to dig into your latest words of wisdom! No longer afraid or reluctant to see myself in your words, I’m excited about the revelations that await me. Hungry for anything that will help me be more of the person my horse wants me to be which is of course, a better human in the end. Thank you Anne!
Isn’t that the nature of learning? We have to love it more than it threatens us, and that is huge. Thanks Sueann
OMG. Best news i have heard in ages. Cannot wait to read your book. Your words have so much insight and relevancy. I hear your ‘voice’ and it helps me think …now what would Anna do?
Yeeehaw! I just bought #1 and am so glad to hear there are more, plus one.
Thanks in advance Anna.
Congratulations to us all for your next book. Oddly, as much as I’ve savored your blog for its writing and wisdom, I’ve not yet purchased your books. Birthday money in hand, I can think of no better gift to myself and the animals in my family.
What marvellous thoughts! Thank you for sharing your feelings, especially those of your first book. I have (almost) completed my first book, except transcribing the last two chapters. It has been almost a year. Thought it was only me, your words have encouraged me to FINISH. I am ordering a copy of “Going Steady”, and shall keep it in sight, should I get ‘stuck’.
Push on through, good for you! Thanks, Jan
Life is suffering. Wait, that one’s already been taken, too, and I don’t buy it. I would go with mastery, those 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell talks about in Outliers have been spent and you’ve earned that limeade. Maybe there’s enough time left over to organize the underwear drawer?!! Congratulations and thank you!!! I’m so looking forward to this book.
I’m SO looking forward to your next book! I’ve already expressed that on your FB group. The cherry on top is that it’s to be released in time for it to be an early birthday gift, the second I’ve given myself this year after 20-some years of my hubby and I not “doing” gifts for specific occasions. (I bought a new vintage/antique Waterfall style bedroom set last week for an insane good price. Squeeee!)
As to the “just write”… I need that kick in the butt. Over the years I’ve dabbled, begun, put away, but rarely picked back up several potential books I’d hoped to create. I’m a voracious reader. Between my husband and I, we borrow almost 500 books per year from our local library system. It’s time to read a bit less and get back to trying to write.
My hands don’t allow much typing, but as talk-to-text improves I find I may be able to do a bit each day.
I *WILL* do a bit each day!
Yippee!! Technology is your friend. Good for you!
Perfect blog for me! Thank you! I have spent the last year or so dabbling with writing another book (the first one came easy), and have been filled with a lot of misgivings this time around……
I know that inner voice… I just don’t listen to it. Keep at it, thanks, Nancy.
For some, one book in enough; I applaud your courage, Anna — it requires courage and much else.
The publishing industry is in such flux, and there is so much intellectual property theft (I found my book had been published by a Chinese printer — without my or my publisher’s knowledge; even my aviation journalism ended up on that shore.
I agree with Nancy. The urge is still there, but it’s a hard road for most. (My horse, Jack, and I are gregarious creatures and find it difficult to spend long hours alone….) Tempus Fugit.
Is writing a hard road or a choice? The publishing industry is losing power and that is nothing but free speech. Better for all of us. Thanks, Nuala.
Looking forward to the new book Anna. All well at Tullich, Argyll, it’s been a good summer, plenty rain now though.
Very best wishes from Sue.
Hi Sue. So good to hear from you, I continue to be haunted by Scotland. Rainy or dry. Take care my friend.
Thank you so much, Anna, for this gift of encouragement. I am a corporate trainer by trade, but have a calling to write. I have one book finished and out there in the world, but just finished the text on my second one yesterday afternoon. Upon finished, the self doubt creeps in and says, “Nobody will want to read this…who do you think you are?” Your message was extremely timely as I now look over each of those words and do the hard work of editing and sharing it with others for proofing and review comments. People think writing is easy. Even for the gifted, it is not. I appreciate you, your writing, your blog and your insight. I have gained much from it. However, today’s encouragement is poignant and special. Thank you again…for being you.
Perhaps the best gift a writer can have is persistence. Good luck, so close to the finish, Kristina.
This post really spoke volumes, or chapters to something I’ve felt called to do for a long time! The worst of time & the best of times precisely describe how I have come to some to cherish the equines in my life even more. Been holding the vision of a blog for some time. It’s time! Thank you Anna.
I agree, Loni. It’s time!
You have such a way with words! I’m looking forward to the new book!
I’ve loved each of your books! Can’t wait for this one!
Thanks, Julie… me either.
I attend a small group gathering twice monthly. A group of ladies, sharing what they write. Not one is writing fiction, we all just write stories from our lives, observations of our lives, and it is wonderful. I love it. I always write under pressure. That’s my style. LOL I have even shown up without a story once because I didn’t manage my time well the night before. But hey, I got to hear everyone else’s stories which always inspires me. If it sounds fun to any of you, start a group. You’ll love it.
This is what’s been so fun about my writing worshops, I am simply wild about what people write. So fun, I’m glad you’re doing this!
Super! Can’t wait to read the book. I do love the cover and title!
Thanks, Karen, the designer did such a lovely job!
The cover is magnificent ! Can’t wait to buy one for myself and many others for gifts ! i’m glad to hear writing could become easier if one practiced it regularly !!!
Easier and easier, it’s just that first bump. Thanks, I especially love this photo, it means so much to me, and the design is lovely. Elaine gave me the idea for the title.
Oh , the best news, another help me go to sleep peacefully book from my favorite author, mentor, fellow lover of our equine friends!! Will you please let us know when and where when it’s ready for the market?
Love the description of writing. Beautifully worded and exactly on point. Enjoyed this piece very much and look forward to the new book. Blessings.
Thanks, Cara. I appreciate it.
When will the new write be available ?
Early September, so very soon. Just waiting on a proof!
Yes, I am ordering Going Steady this week. I love Anna’s stunning poetry and prose and, as a fellow-writer, I appreciate her excellence.
Now, yesterday, I gave my OTTB a long, 45-minute, serious massage in his stall. He was so relaxed he almost tipped over, hanging out, lower lip dropped, legs slightly spread to balance himself. While I give him spa and rub days, I hadn’t done this before.
The effects were amazing, and when I stopped to talk to friends, he lifted his lowered head and nudged me as if to say, “Please don’t stop what you are doing.” What a joy and relaxation for us both.
As for today, I love the donkey post. Thank you, as always, Anna.