Composing a Writer #6. Writing for Readers

It’s a moment of exquisite anxiety. The kind of anxiety that’s prickly and blunt at the same time, and you can’t see around it. One word at a time, it’s been an act of faith that you’ve come this far. You retreat, change a word here, and alter some punctuation there. You’ve lost count of the number of edits. You’ve edited the edits. To kill some more time, you read it aloud one last time because it’s easier than worrying about what people will think.

Who gave you the right, anyway? In a world of real authors who have valuable things to say, and the schooling and creativity to say them well, why do you even try? Who do you think you are?

Silence. Then you hear a tiny voice that cracks and wobbles. It’s you, saying something that sounds awkward and defensive, even to you. Breathing is shallow as your hand moves to your mouse. You stare as your cursor moves across your computer screen. It pauses, hovers, and goes still. You’ve been here before. It’s hang-time …then a conscious choice. Click. Publish.

In lieu of a fist pump and victory dance, you stare sullenly at the screen, considering another edit.

[Reminder: This is a series about writing; a map of the paths and stopovers that I made in my book process. It isn’t that I’m an expert; there are as many ways to approach to writing as there are authors.]

This is our sixth week writing together. I hope new habits are gaining strength and your writing is pulling you in. Writing isn’t mystical or romantic; it’s a choice. This week let’s check in, and recalculate our position, and ask ourselves if we’re headed where we want to go.

Do you want to write for yourself or for others?

Maybe some of us gave it a chance and discovered writing isn’t what we thought it would be. If you can lay down the dream with no regrets, consider that knowledge a win.

Maybe writing is something you enjoy doing for your own purposes. Does writing clarify your thoughts and tell your story? Keeping a journal is a time-honored art form used for self-discovery and creating a legacy for your loved ones. Maybe journaling is perfect for you. Let it be.

Perhaps your writing isn’t as clear as you’d like, so you’ve been “googling” writer’s blogs and even checking out writer’s conferences. There’s information available to writers –like daily prompts and articles about improving your technical skill and word choice. In the beginning, my ideas out-ran my skill set, pronouns got confused and when I read my writing aloud, even I couldn’t tell what I meant. There’s no spell-check for confusion and run-on sentences. Maybe you’re honest to say you want to linger and improve your writing skills before you move on. Wonderful investment!

While I continued to study the art of writing, listened to authors speak every chance I got, and most of all, let myself be inspired by the writing of others, I still wanted more. It was time to start making friends with readers. In other words, time to get verbally naked in public.

My first published piece started out as a bittersweet joke in 2010. I was pouting about my good horse’s forced retirement. As a dressage competitor, I received the United States Dressage Federation’s monthly magazine, where the back page was devoted to stories from readers. I noticed that there was always a small photo of the author with the byline. I submitted a story that barely mentioned my horse, it was accepted, and when they asked for a photo, I sent one with my gelding lurking over my shoulder. That was the win; his photo in a national dressage magazine.

There was a book lurking over my shoulder as well, but I knew I wasn’t ready so I started a blog. I gave myself deadlines that I never missed –twice a week for the last seven years. I kept a list of possible topics, but beyond that, each post was a writing assignment to describe something hard to describe or to write something humorous or poignant. I took my writing seriously. I practiced.

It took all my courage to ask my friends to follow my blog and for a couple of years there were just a handful of readers. I posted on blog sharing sites, like Barnmice, and finally got brave enough to share it in board daylight on Facebook. I knew no one wanted to read my words because who did I think I was. I shared anyway.

This week: Congratulate yourself on the writing you’ve done. If it’s time to let go, celebrate your discovery and take guiltless flight to your next adventure. If your writing is gifting you with understanding and self-esteem, then journal it out! Let your words lead you on.

If your writing practice has inspired you to want more, consider going public and start making friends with readers. Write an article. Start a public blog with a deadline schedule. Begin an outline for your book. If you’re uncertain about your next step, choose the scary thing. This week make up your own writing assignment.

And then let us know on our Writing Herd Facebook page. Celebrate the dream and tell us how you’ll start cutting it into bite-sized pieces. Write on!

When I talk to writers, lots pooh-pooh blogs as the ugly step-child to real writing. I counter that if readers won’t read your words for free, why would they ever buy a book?

With gratitude, I owe everything to my blog readers. They encouraged me in the beginning while I found my words. As my writing gradually improved more readers discovered me. The blog growth gave me the confidence to start my book, Stable Relation. In turn, when the book writing got sticky, the positive comments on my blog lifted me up. There was a snowball effect; the more I wrote, the more I wrote. It was an unexpected and empowering gratitude cycle …and once that baby starts rolling, anything is possible.

I don’t know if there’s an avalanche of good writing in your future, but I do know this: It’s your choice.

….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro

 

Composing a Writer #5. Write Long, Write Short

Edit Mad dog

As soon as I escaped, I started writing poems. I was barely eighteen and living four states away from my complicated family. I struggled with depression and love poems were out of my range of experience. I was all teen angst: Walking at night, soaking in self-loathing, and alone in a city. When I did speak, my words cut to the bone with truth and rage. I wasn’t much fun to be around.

Luckily, I’m an introvert, so I wrote it out for hours at a time. My words built a cage for my monsters. In a while, I felt safe enough to sleep through the night with the help of a few good dogs.

Writing is therapy and some of us need it more than others. I was fine with that. Somewhere in the process of distilling an experience into words, I found a bit of sanity for a few hours. And poetry forced me to whittle huge thoughts into mere paragraphs and then dissect to the heart of that.

Poetry is editing in the extreme. 

Of course, I knew poetry was as foolish as wearing underwear-hats. Too self-absorbed, too elite, too obscure.

My self-doubt created a literary character who had a habit of publicly reading her embarrassingly lame poetry, to the chagrin of her friends. I bite my tongue for her to this day. The character out-lived that book outline and she’s still here, poking me to write poems while heckling me for being a dolt. Have I mentioned that I think too much?

I attended a book talk given by author Michael Ondaatje a while back. He won the Booker Prize for The English Patient, but has published numerous fiction, non-fiction, and poetry books. His autograph table in the lobby looked like an entire library. When asked about that genre range, he said that prose opened the door to poetry and then, in turn, poetry informed his prose. He continued to answer questions eloquently while my brain stalled, grasping at the idea. What if all my words worked together instead of being contained in separate categories that name-called each other? It seemed obvious in hindsight.

So with absolutely no acknowledgment, for fear someone would notice, I started posting blogs where I edited 800-900 words out. The other word for that is poetry.

[A reminder: This is a series about writing; a map of the paths and stopovers that I made, with writing exercises included. It isn’t that I think I’m an expert or that my book sales have bought me a second home. Or even a second bathroom in this home. I’ve just had such a great time and sharing it serves as a thank you. Friend me on Facebook if you’d like to be part of the online group. We work on the honor system; participate as you like. Writing is common sense; you’ll get about as much out of it as you put in.]

This week: The assignment that never changes… write. Write like the wind, write like thunder, write like the desert. Write because writing improves the quality of ordinary thought and we become more interesting to own ourselves.

There are general guidelines on word count for most genres. Books should be about 80,000 words, give or take. A plot should run tight and hot. Longer manuscripts are frowned on by the book industry. The assumption being it’s badly edited; that it rambles or has superfluous characters. The generally accepted length of a blog is around 600-800 words to rank well in the search engines, and not over 2500 words. Blogs are considered short form writing and should be crafted to stay on topic and hold the reader’s attention. Briefly.

Look at both word count and word choice. If it isn’t important, edit it out. If it’s a good turn of phrase, save it for later writing, but hack away now. Be strict. Be heartless. Train yourself to only use your very best words. Then edit most of those out. Shorten redundant sentences and leave something for the reader to be interested in following. Then remember the only difference between editing a blog and a book is that you relentlessly chop and hack for thousands of words longer.

The best reason to exercise your edit skills is that there’s a secret task up ahead. The very hardest part of writing a book isn’t the first 80,000 words. It ends up that’s the easy part. After that you need a blurb. The damned blurb. You’ll need one that’s 500 words and another at 250 words. Then, almost impossibly, one about 100 words long. Finally, you’ll need the hardest piece of writing in the world: A blurb for the back cover; a precious few life-or-death words to entice a reader to cross the line and read it. My blurbs have taken me weeks and weeks to write and I’m not alone. Start flexing those editing muscles now. I could write a book… The Angst of Reduction.

This week’s assignment is to write long and then write short. Begin a reduction. [Wiki: In cooking, a reduction is the process of thickening and intensifying the flavor of a liquid mixture such as a soup, sauce, wine, or juice by simmering or boiling.] Write a longer piece and then edit it in half. Then boil that down to a sentence or a poem. Twenty words or so.

Then post on the Writing Herd FB page. Share this assignment or your feelings about this assignment, or anything else you’d like. We’re your readers.

So… in this series about writing, I try to give an example of what I mean in each post. Here goes:

I write about life, using horses are a parable. There are three books now, several hundred blogs, and lately, I try to sum it up in even fewer words.

Go the distance.
Do it with grace or do it ugly,
because some days
that’s what your best looks like.

It only matters
that you go the full heart distance.
….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro

Composing a Writer #4. Why Words Matter

 

She’s been my friend for decades. That was me at her daughter’s birthday party, singing and tap dancing in a rented Big Bird costume. She came to all my weddings. We’re chosen family but we almost had to hate each other in the beginning.

I met her husband first; I was a goldsmith and he was a diamond dealer, capable of witty banter. Business calls collapsed into lightning fast quip-fests and I fell in love with his words. He told each of us about the other and we’d exchanged cautious greetings on the phone. We set our first meeting; he’d bring her to an art opening I was having, promising her on the way that she could have any piece of mine that she wanted. We were in our mid-twenties and feigning maturity. But it was an art opening and I already felt awkward and socially intimidated and fearful about my work. In other words, I was desperately feigning.

My best friendships have all started with love at first sight. Yes, I saw her across a crowded room. We were physical opposites. She was petite and golden, with rich olive skin, glossy dark hair, and sparkling eyes. She wore a bold yellow sundress and strappy rainbow-colored shoes. I probably stared. As her husband introduced us, my throat got tight with all the things that mattered.

“Nice shoes,” I blurted out. I might have sounded sarcastic. 

[A reminder: This is a series about writing; a map of the paths and stopovers that I made, with writing exercises included. It isn’t that I think I’m an expert or that my book sales have bought me a second home. Or even a second bathroom in this home. I’ve just had such a great time and sharing it serves as a thank you. Friend me on Facebook if you’d like to be part of the online group. We work on the honor system; participate as you like. Writing is common sense; you’ll get about as much out of it as you put in.]

It’s trite to say words matter –especially to writers. We know that words hang in the air forever. We even hope some of those words are ours.

When we first began reading, it was a storybook before bed or a Dick and Jane primer in first grade. We sounded out words in syllables, puzzling words into sentences until a story formed with the help of clues –pictures of dogs and bicycles and school houses. It was a big deal to graduate to “books with all words.”

Learning to write is a lot like learning to read. In the beginning, we’re a bit stilted. Writing is a puzzle and we’re still sounding out words. If things seem too complicated to describe, we might over-simplify in an effort to be understood. We don’t quite trust the reader. It’s easier to just tell them what to think rather than write in a way that invites them to come to their own conclusions. It’s complicated enough to make you nostalgic for a time when things were black and white. The other word for that is boring and flat.

Writers are hoping to hook the reader with confident prose, while we hide behind the words, teetering in a flop-sweat about our personal literary issues. We want it to sound so casual, so normal, knowing we only have a sentence, or at most a paragraph, before the reader will move on to something more interesting. Ouch.

On a good day, we try to see that word/time/challenge as an opportunity. Storytelling is an art that we practice. There’s the way we write now and the way we hope to write eventually. We’ll need to collaborate with readers to get there.

This Week: Continue writing every day. Let your words flow without judgment. Let your words be so abundant that you throw them about wantonly, littering the entire page. Be fluent in choice and quantity and imagination. This week write something out on thin ice. Tell a story and let the reader know more than you do. Describe something hard to describe. Let a scene have an emotional runaway. Write something with images and no dialog. Write something with dialog and no images. Write in a way that the abstract is as plain as furniture. Write about vulnerability and let your vulnerability show. Challenge yourself to be clear and still trust your reader to connect the dots.  This is an open assignment; latch onto any of these ideas and follow it to other ideas. Be surprised where you land.

Then post on the Writing Herd FB page and share something you’ve written or your feelings about this assignment, or anything else you’d like to share. We’re your readers.

As for my friend, we’ve shared our lives that way women do. We bore witness for each other with humor and love and tears. There are words that will hang in the air, and stay in our hearts, because we survived that first awkward collision and kept on trying. Nice shoes, indeed.

 

….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro

Composing a Writer #3. Comfortable Creativity

The first time you saw him, he was hurrying down the street, hat brim pulled low, and his cape flying out behind him like a crow’s wings. He glanced sideways and stopped on the spot. He said, “I’ve found you. Finally.” His face had a feminine quality.

At first, there were long walks as he described your thoughts in illuminated detail and then tied the pieces together with insight and compassion. The world was curious with no time to cook. You nibbled apples and cheese with a glass of red. Sometimes you cried from the sheer beauty of the turn of a phrase. It was the glory of being truly known. Understood. You had to fall in love.

But he changed. He became fickle and moody. Sometimes he came home after you were asleep at night or left before you woke up in the morning. He trashed the bathroom, ate all the cookies, and then told your friends you needed to lose weight. Worst of all, he became impatient with your words, tapping his foot and checking his watch. He was all drama and no rent money.

 Does your creativity behave like a bad boyfriend? 

[A reminder: This is a series about writing; a map of the paths and stopovers that I made, with writing exercises included. It isn’t that I think I’m an expert or that my book sales have bought me a second home. Or even a second bathroom in this home. I’ve just had such a great time and sharing it serves as a thank you. Friend me on Facebook and ask if you’d like to be part of the online group. We work on the honor system; participate as you like. Writing is common sense; you’ll get about as much out of it as you put in.] 

Do you really want him back? Wasn’t he a bit over-dressed to begin with? I’m going to suggest something decidedly un-romantic. Consider replacing your dysfunctional creative drama with the proper use of a small spiral notebook. And if that’s too old school, there’s an app for that.

At twenty-years-old, I started a career as a self-employed artist. What seemed like a wildly romantic adventure (showing in New York at twenty-five) was just exactly like a job. I kept hours and paid bills. I had the usual foibles in the beginning as I learned to trust myself but it was people apologizing for their lack of artistic skill that did the most to foster my confidence. But not like you’d expect…

Friends constantly told me they had absolutely no creative skill. Yet some announced their politics by paying wild attention to their appearance. Some cooked beautiful feasts, while others approached their jobs with unique enthusiasm. I saw art in sciences like medicine and space travel. Even my car mechanic seemed like a renaissance man.

So, I took a breath and got comfortable. If art was brain science and cooking dinner, then it followed that life was a creative endeavor by design. Art is our birth language; it comes with our bones and skin. Our only choice is what to do with it.

What if it’s as easy as teaching ourselves to say yes?

If creativity could be seen as a big fat chicken, the last thing I’d want to do is grab him by the throat and squeeze him past squawking, till his eyes popped out. In other words, kindly give yourself a break. Creativity isn’t a timed test. Sitting in front of the computer, squint-eyed, coffee-soaked and knuckle-cracked while waiting for inspiration is too much drama. Besides, it makes the dog nervous.

That brings me back to the small spiral notebook. I always carry one. My best thoughts come to me while I’m mildly distracted and mucking is the perfect time for brainstorming. I move slowly through the pens, letting physical muscles warm up the mental ones. As muck cart fills, I jot down passing thoughts, and all the while, get encouragement from those who help my creative process along by pooping out the hay that I worked to buy and then asking if it’s time for lunch yet. In the meantime, blog topics and plot solutions blossom in the fertile environment. It’s a creative circle if you tilt your head like a Corgi.

This week: Continue your daily stream of consciousness writing but ask yourself some questions about creativity. What do you believe? How do you experience creativity in others? In yourself? Can you write an analogy about creativity, like the beginning of this post? Lay an egg of creativity; let yourself get uncomfortable and then delve into emotions, discover secrets, or just let out a rant! As usual, give yourself a few days and then share either your writing, or your experience as a result of your writing, on our Writing Herd FB page. Or just say hey; we like having you along.

The bottom line is simple but sometimes a challenge to remember. We are each a work of art; individually made of star-dust and desire. You don’t have to write or paint or fly on wings to prove that. Art is the past-tense of breathing; the by-product of curating a life well-lived. Kind of redefines muck, when you look at it that way.

….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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Composing a Writer #2. Just Write

We’re big talkers. We debate and dream and create. There are issues that good people should agree about on but it gets complicated by reality. A cure for cancer or missile defense? Big business or the environment? Recycle or a one-size-fits-all trashcan? And everyone knows a rescue pet is the right choice, as long as they’re healthy young purebreds with no bad habits.

We all live at the intersection of big talk and inconvenient reality, trying to define our personal integrity. In other words, is it more important to write or clean the bathroom?

Is worry about integrity overstating it? Not for me. It’s a holdover from growing up in a family where actions rarely matched words. My self-esteem got all beat up and I didn’t trust my own species. After all, if you can’t depend on your own mother…

Wait! That’s a plotline for a book!

Come to think of it, most romantic comedies revolve around a dishonest moment dressed up as an amusing misunderstanding. Murder mysteries depend on things not being as they seem and the reader joins the search for the killer… an attractive genre for people raised like me.

Dishonesty, hidden agendas, and unknown resources all become creative license for a writer. We plot the word-to-action disconnect and get to weave in the questions we want to ponder along the way to the ending we choose. We’re all gods in our writing.

There’s just one problem. If you don’t actually sit down in the chair, technically speaking, then you never get to create the character who saves the world. Apparently, deceiving yourself isn’t the same as tricking a reader. Good intentions and reasonable excuses don’t get words on the paper.

Let’s start with an assumption: We all have busy lives. We all work. We all have families, friends, and commitments. And most of all, we all have excuses. Some of them are real and some are not, but we’ve all heard or uttered an endless number of good reasons to not write. Yet, here we are.

Plain truth: Writers write. 

None of those excuses is the real excuse, by the way. I think laundry and work and sleep are fake excuses, covering up the biggest challenge to writing …self-judgement. We’re critical of each word before it hits the paper. We hem and haw. We say that we write for our private pleasure, but then spank each word as a failed Great American Novel. We let our words get too precious. Add guilt and regret into the mix. Then worst of all, we censor ourselves.

Writing is easy. It’s the self-criticism that takes time.

Snap out of it. Get over yourself and your artistic tantrums. Like any other skill, practice is the key to fluency. Criticism is the key to self-loathing. What if you let it be as simple as a choice?

When I was getting ready to begin writing Stable Relation, a writer/friend suggested that I get in shape by writing 1500 words a day for a month. It felt like a ridiculously impossible feat but I have step-kids so I started there. Then I wrote about every dog I ever loved, and politics I aspire to, and funny things I remembered. The words I rattled off gave me understanding because writing is always therapy. My words got common and ordinary, so they did what I asked. I wrote about everything except what my book was about; this exercise is less about result and more about creating a habit. Somewhere a couple of weeks in, I found a confidence I didn’t expect and a list of other book ideas that surfaced in during my word rants. After 30 days, it would have been the hardest thing to stop the river of words. And my real book was dying to be started. I felt like a Thoroughbred in the starting gate.

This week: The assignment is simple: Just write. It’s the same if you’re a dreamer or published author. Don’t worry about genre or format or “voice”; it’s all equal between you and your words. Write stream-of-consciousness words with no editing or spell check. No whining, no judging. Do you work full time like I do? Then get up early. Just start; open the floodgate and let the words run where they may. Do it every single day. Let the words be silly or stilted, empty or filled with emotion; think word count above word content. Write words so prolifically that you throw them away. Trust your words to come when they’re called and then let yourself love them without constraint. Not less than 500 words, but know that it only takes about an hour to pound out 1500 words. You set your word goal and your time schedule. Make a 7-day commitment to start, but a month is better. Remember to thank yourself every day.

Then in a week, post a comment or a blog about your experience on our private Facebook page and let us know how it’s going. (If you want to join us there, “friend” me and I’ll add you.) If you prefer staying silent, we do understand. We’re all introverts here. Who else would sit alone with keyboard for hours? But stay with us.

We’re writers. We write.

….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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Composing a Writer. #1 Tools of the Trade

Everybody has a list of wishes, some more idle than others. Early retirement is an idle wish if you aren’t saving for it. If you don’t have a passport, walking along the Seine in Paris isn’t in your near future. And the desire to write will lounge on your bookshelf next to Gone With the Wind as long as you like.

Idle wishes serve a valuable purpose. They are a way of playing dress-up with the future. What would the garden look like if I didn’t work at my job? What does it smell like in Paris? Fiction or nonfiction? Curiosity and creative exercise are crucial in keeping our brains healthy, so no guilt. Daydreaming is a fine art and wishes serve a purpose even if they go no further than the couch.

I have a confession: I love my writing. I’m probably supposed to lament writer’s block and be a tragic soul about a dozen literary things, but in my previous thirty years as a professional artist, I never threatened to cut an ear off either. What if the imagination/creativity thing was easier than we think?

I’ve decided to do some writing about writing; a road map of the paths and stopovers that I made. There will be weekly posts with writing exercises included. It isn’t that I think I’m an expert or that my book sales have bought me a second home. Or even a second bathroom in this home. I’ve just had such a great time on this adventure and sharing it serves as a thank you.

I notice saying thank you does more good than artistic angst every single day.

So, do you want to come along? Writing doesn’t require a savings account and you can travel so much farther than Paris using your own words. Is it finally time for you to start writing?

This is the part where you lay out your tools. If you feel that the only really artistic method of writing is banging away on an old Underwood typewriter, good for you, but there is some technology out there that really makes writing easier.

If you want to play along at home, start here: When is a blog not a blog? When we re-task it to suit our journaling needs. Think of a blog as a word processing program that also has a search feature and comes in a tidy, attractive package. You can categorize your thoughts/posts in a more organized way than a spiral notebook. A blog can be as private as a diary, shared selectively, or used to bring the world to your desk. Rather than having word docs attached to emails, drifting around the internet, and loitering in other computers, your words are contained and shared by a simple link. And, blogs are free. You can have a whole stable full of blogs for different purposes.

This week: Look around and find a blog home. I tried a few blog sites back when I started and I like WordPress best, for its scope as well as its bits and parts. The online community there is supportive and I’ve made some good friends there. It’s fairly friendly to use, but suit yourself. Then trick out your blog like a hideout. Give it a name that matters to you. Pick themes and colors you like. Get familiar with its quirks.

Blogs have pages, like a website, and there is usually an “about” page. If you want an example, take a look at my author site. Keep in mind that mine is a public blog, so I’m “dressed up” in a literary way. Your first blog is fun meant just for you, so lighten up. Flip-flops are fine.

Then write an introduction. Introduce yourself in seven words. (An exercise in brevity.) Or introduce yourself as your best friend or your dog would. (An exercise in using another voice… and speaking more kindly about yourself than you might, left to your own words.) Or introduce yourself to your greatest literary superhero. (An exercise to connect you personally with published authors, even if it’s just in your own mind.) Or do all three exercises… just for the sheer fun of it.

We work on the honor system here. There’s no submission requirement. Just like real life, you’ll get about as much out of this journey as you put in.

And just one more thought from me. Words matter so very much. They are powerful; how we speak of ourselves and our dreams are the creative spark that lights the future. At 62, I’m so aware of how precious that light is and how important our diverse voices are to the collective conversation. Too many of us hold our tongues, thinking we’re being polite when the world needs our truth. Writing is the art of molding our voices to say just the exact thing we mean, with honesty and vulnerability, and hopefully a little humor.

Please join us. Take your writing seriously. Whether the world ever reads us or not, it’s past time that we give our own words the respect they deserve.

….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro

Now What? (and Other News)

hurry-spring

Now is the winter of my discontent

Okay, maybe I’m being Shakespeare-dramatic. Monochromatic seasons can bring that out in me. Here on the prairie, the only visual break from tan grass stretching to the horizon is when it turns white for a while. I’m grumbling, but the truth is that I can use a break from my hectic pace, every ten months or so, to cozy-in at my farm.

But this winter, I mourned some excruciating good-byes. If you are a woman of a certain age who thinks too much, the changes can add up. Not that it’s good or bad; just that I noticed and needed time to acclimate. I think there’s some rule of diminishing returns that says that with each day I grow older, the world becomes more precious. The beauty in ordinary things has become nearly debilitating. But then, I think too much. No apologies.

I’ve been prodded into action after reading that there is legislative action to make it legal to shoot hibernating bears, along with their cubs. It seems to follow that the dogs and I could be mistaken; we’ve been doing a decent bear impression. Besides, the weather is having mood swings and I’m counting days till the time change. Hurry spring.

BOOK NEWS: My books are now available on two new online sites. Check out the Equine Network Store for a great collection of equine literature, and for international readers, Lavender and White publishers, based in the UK, now carry all three books.

COMING EVENTS: I’ll be at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo March 10-12 in the Author Corner. (Discount tickets here.) I’ll be signing books and meeting new friends. *** I’ll be at my favorite indie bookstore, Covered Treasures, in Monument, CO, on March 18th, 3-5 pm, signing books. Please come by. *** Who’s going to the World Cup in Omaha? Look for my books in the Equine Network Booth and I’ll be there, too. Let me know if you want to meet-up.

I’ll be presenting at the Region 10 PATH conference May 7th. This isn’t open to the public but it’s a reminder that I am available for public speaking engagements, on topics on horse advocacy and training, women’s experience, and writing. Please contact me if you’re interested in having me speak to your group or clinic at your barn. Join with groups in Washington, California, Virginia, and Illinois-Indiana.

NOW WHAT? Well, I have a stack of ideas; I’m investigating doing something on the topic of responsibility and care of therapy horses. *** One of my readers encourages me to consider a children’s book, with Arthur, the goat, as the main character. She found a great illustrator, too. *** Others are encouraging me to compile a book of quotes from my blogs. *** Still others are asking about a book of photos and poems. *** And I have a few book outlines including a sequel to Stable Relation and another book about Love, Men, and Dogs. What do you think?

THEN THIS: I always thought I’d write something, but it wasn’t easy. At first, it was nothing but masochistic. I’d read a fresh paragraph aloud and I’d tried so hard to be clever that I was nearly unintelligible. Adverbs were lost in verbiage. There were runaway pronouns. But I stuck to my keyboard, hoping an intention in my mind would somehow intersect with the right group of words. Then I edited liked a mad dog with a chainsaw.

babybird-3Do you feel the pull to write? If there’s interest, I’m thinking about starting an online group to encourage those of us who are certain there’s a book (or blog or story) in us but we’re having a time squeezing it out. Like an egg. That will hatch into something real. Like a fat-lipped baby bird.

Want to write with us? (Email me at anna@annablake.com)

Again, for those of you who have left reviews for Barn Dance, or the other books, thank you so much. It breathes life into search engines and that is gold for indies like me. I appreciate every single review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.

HURRY SPRING.

….

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro