Thursday, September 12, 2013

Writing Lesson in Horse Riding

I recently figured that hey, I write about knights and cowboys. Maybe I should learn how to ride a horse myself.

It's something I've always wanted to do. There's something absolutely beautiful about seeing a horse and rider in harmony. Something almost mystical.

Learning how to ride, is another animal altogether. There was Calypso, who hates me. Really. I went up to him, trusting him and... well... He tried to head-butt me. And the riding went worse.

So given that Calypso was out to get me, my instructor introduced me to Juno. Now Juno and I hit it off. With Juno, I thought I'd be able to go all the way.

Except the second time I rode him (yes, I know it's stupid to name a stallion for the Roman goddess of women and motherhood), he started to do things that made me less than comfortable. I mean, I'm new to this riding thing. So when I want the horse to stop, it's nice to know the horse will stop. Still, I figured it'd be okay, since I'd grow better as I practiced more.

The lesson after that, though, I was asked to ride Quicksilver. Now Quicky is rather an ornery beast. He's the one who puts all the horses on the farm in their places. And when he does, he kicks butt and takes names. He's also the one who wants to be in front no matter what, so he's faster than either of the other two. And he bites any horse who tries to take the lead from him.

The thing is... Quicky and I simply hit it off. Sure, he was fast, but never in a way that undermined the trust I had to put in him. In fact, riding him gave me the confidence to think I could actually learn other things. Most importantly, though, he loves me too. If there's a group of people and he's loose, he comes to me and lowers his head for me to pet him. Is he the horse I can trust? Possibly. He might change his mind later, but for now, we're getting along perfectly, even if logic says I shouldn't have liked him.

Incidentally, today, I had to ride Juno and my mom had to ride Quicky. Juno was actually scarier today than Calypso. And my mother felt the same way about Quicky.

Now, I bet you're wondering how I'm bringing this to writing. Well.

When I started writing, there was a western. We got along okay, but when my mom took my computer and gave it to someone else, I stopped working on it for years. The spark just wasn't there. (Juno.)

Later on, there was a fantasy. A quest, in fact. With a chosen one. But it was dark. Took me places I didn't want to go. In fact, it was part of some stuff I was going through at the time that really really messed me up in ways that made my university issues look like kindergarten. In the end, I burnt it. Yep. Wiped it, and all the back-ups, and burnt all the plans and drawings I'd made for it. (Calypso)

I have a few other drafts that I could explain, but right now, there aren't horses that match them.

Finally, in walked a character while I was re-reading Chronicles of Narnia. After all those failed attempts, I'd decided to give up on writing idea until I was certain that my idea was a good one. The character didn't take no for an answer, and the story he revealed to me was so good that I knew I'd finish it. To put money where my mouth was, I even started this blog as My First Book. I planned it to be a blog of me finishing a book and getting it published.

Was it because the story was easy? No. In fact, my older bloggy friends might recall that I called it The Beast. The story was huge. It defied my every attempt at pre-planning. The characters were reticent. In fact I hated one of the main characters. But I couldn't give up. I didn't want to. (That story went on to become The Vanished Knight.)

Maybe it's too soon to make this call, but that sounds a lot like Quicksilver. A bit of a bastard, but hey, it picked me and I love it for giving me that honor.

So in summary, the lesson I've learnt so far in writing and horse riding:

Just because you're struggling to get into it doesn't mean that you should give up. It could be that you just have the wrong horse for right now. 
 
Anyone want to talk about the drafts before the one they finished? 

44 comments:

  1. This is a great post! I'm actually digging back into a series that I (thought) was finished...several times in fact! My issue has been that I know I have the right story; I'm just having a hard time letting the right voice out!

    Enjoy your riding lessons!

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  2. Good analogy!
    And sometimes we have to go back to that first horse and realize that was the right one.
    Horse and I don't get along. The last one I rode bit everything within nibbling range, including me.

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    1. Hahaha your horse story sounds close to mine. Juno once pretended to be sweet in an attempt to nip me in the shoulder. Luckily, my instructor warned me in time.

      Also, I agree with you on going back to horses. One day when I'm a good rider, I'll get back on Calypso and show him who's boss. ;-)

      Same with my writing. The fantasy I burned won't ever come back. The Vanished Knight is much better.

      But that western I mentioned is already finished in rough draft form.

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  3. This is a good post. Hope you an Quicksilver get a chance to enjoy the weather.

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    1. Thanks!

      Where I live, the weather's just starting to improve. ^_^

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  4. Quicky, LOL. That's funny. I'm not a rider, either, although I did go a bit as a child. I didn't know what I was doing. It's so cool you decided to learn.

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    1. I think it's cool too. Unless I actually have to ride. Today was actually the second worst lesson I've had, following the first one.

      The first one, I had a mini-melt-down.

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  5. What if you're struggling to STAY into it. Like it feels like for every one step forward you're taking two steps back.

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    1. I know what you mean. Used to get that from my writing a lot, and am now experiencing it in the horse riding lessons.

      Only thing to do is decide if it's worth it. If it is, you need to tough it out until things become easier. :-)

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  6. My favorite line in this wonderful post:

    I have a few other drafts that I could explain, but right now, there aren't horses that match them.

    That *cracked* me up, I swear and the post made perfect sense, too :)

    And, I may have the wrong horse for now (WIP#2) but we shall see :)

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    1. Hehehe glad it makes sense. :-D

      I wrote it on a moment's inspiration, out of desperation to turn a depressing afternoon on a horse into something good and useful.

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  7. Great comparison. I wish we could find our right horses fast!

    All the best!

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    1. Me too, sometimes, but then I remind myself that nothing worthwhile is easy. :-)

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  8. Love this analogy! I've had a few works I tried starting but they just didn't quite work out. I think I wasn't ready for them, but that's okay. They may one day be the right horse. :)

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    1. Definitely. Sometimes all it needs is time. :-)

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  9. I've never been horse riding... but my hubby LOVES the horses.
    The weather is improving, so it seems you and Quicksilver will be able to get out and enjoy yourselves soon...
    Writer In Transit

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    1. Yeah we've been having some awesome weather in the Cape lately, although it looks like we have some rain coming in this weekend.

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  10. I'm pretty stubborn and refuse to give up on a novel, even if it takes me a long time to figure out the problem. It's possible I'm the horse!

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    1. Teehee!

      Possible! Or maybe you're a bronco buster. ;-)

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  11. My dear, you couldn't have said it any better. Personally I like donkey's. They're smaller. And yes, they may be stubborn but that's because they're smart. If you treat them right they'll take you where you want to go. It might be a slower journey, but they are sure-footed and they'll get you safely to the end.

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  12. I've never trusted horses. Just too flighty!
    But I love the parallel you have drawn.

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  13. I grew up, for part of my childhood, on a farm I got feed and ride horses quite a bit. The analogy is apt. My first story...or world...is still lingering at the edges and I keep having to tell it, nope, not ready yet. Still there are other horses to ride.

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  14. Right now, I'm just trying to find the time to write with the grand baby around.

    Good post.

    Hugs and chocolate.

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  15. Love this Misha. Agree with Alex too, sometimes you go back to those horses!

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    1. Yep. That's the fun part. Seeing how much you've grown as a writer, being able to go back to something you struggled with before and managing it this time.

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  16. What a great way of putting it! I think a lot of folks are surprised at the strong personalities of horses. Sometimes they're like big dogs. I have several old manuscripts that took me for a ride. I took the experience and moved on to a new mount.

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    1. Yeah some horses really do have strong personalities. But I actually like that about them.

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  17. What a great post! I never would've connected writing and riding horses, but you make a convincing case. :) Well said.

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  18. Seriously wonderful analogy! I've had my own version of "The Beast" waiting around for several years. Looks as though I just need to ride a few other horses first.

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    1. I know what you mean. When my beast was ready, I took six more months just to work out to myself if I had it in me to take it on.

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  19. What a great analogy, Misha!

    (And - gasp - I can't believe you were strong enough to burn your manuscript. Sounds like you are confident it was the right choice for you, which is great and led to new beginnings!)

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    1. Oh yeah it was definitely the right choice. I never regretted it and... well, its concept was childish in comparison to the series I'm publishing.

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  20. I got dragged across a farm with my leg caught in the stirrup, and bounced over a gate. It wasn't a great experience. I blamed the lightning bolt, but it was largely down to my inexperience of horseriding. I had not control or ability to calm the horse down... You really used the analogy well. Never thought of it that way. X

    Shah

    http://bit.ly/18XOO8z

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    1. Oh my word that must have been terrifying!

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  21. I like horses, but they can sense fear or confidence. I've had no formal riding training. But - several horse riding experiences, one or two bareback.

    I've slipped off a horse when the guide didn't tighten the saddle enough, but was calm enough not to spook the horse and retrieve my camera that fell (only a short distance). The question is - how long should one hold on when the saddle is slipping steadily to the horses side?? I suffered only a huge bruise on one leg as I landed on a rock. Ouch!

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    1. Oh wow that was very irresponsible of the people who took you riding.

      As for holding on, I guess it depends on the speed of slippage?

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  22. I have ridden horses only on the beach and in hill stations, both times it was a touristy thing. And the horse's slow gait was to keep my fear away :) I may as well have ridden a wooden pony for all the good it did to me.

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    1. Hahaha yeah there's a bit difference between riding as a tourist attraction and learning how to ride properly.

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