Wednesday, May 14, 2008

explosions in the mind

After working on novel pages this morning, I went out to the barn and fed breakfast. Keil Bay knew it was his day for a ride, so he stayed up at the barn instead of marching back to the field with everyone else.

I groomed him from head to hoof. He needed the full treatment, not because he was dirty, but because he needed attention. I love taking a really long time to get him ready for his ride, when I'm not rushed and he knows there is nothing else in the world I have to do, or would rather be doing.

After we had one minor catastrophe - he came all the way into the tack room with me, and he is a big horse for that very tight space - we had our ride. Very pleasant. Little things led to some good moments. I had no real agenda, but one formed on its own and we both followed it.

After, he still didn't go back out to the field, but tried to come in the tack room again and scared me to death. I was absorbed in cleaning my saddle, and suddenly he was there. I sensed something and when I turned his eyes were looking into mine. I screamed. He leaped straight back and fortunately went right through the door as he leaped.

Stood there looking at me like I had gone crazy. I was so deep in cleaning the saddle, his presence was its own little explosion. He came right back into the edge of the doorway to get pats and would have marched on in again had I not said no.

All this led up to me being really ready to go back to novel pages when I came inside. I was thinking about how much I love taking time with every little step of grooming and tacking and then warming up and riding. Then untacking and winding down, with Keil Bay hanging out with me as I go. How making time for all those little steps allows for spontaneous good ideas and good moments to bubble up. That almost never happens with a rushed, forced ride.

And the same is true for writing. I enjoy the process and have come to trust the little steps along the way. I know that some parts of the process are not as exciting but staying engaged and finding the good in each step allows for the bursts of creativity, the magic moments.

Sitting here thinking about that, I picked up Ellen Gilchrist's Falling Through Space and opened to this:

"A piece of writing is the product of a series of explosions in the mind. It is not the first burst of excitement and its aftermath. It is helpful to me to pretend that writing is like building a house. I like to go out and watch real building projects and study the faces of the carpenters and masons as they add board after board and brick after brick. It reminds me of how hard it is to do anything really worth doing."

My writing is often illuminated by how I approach a good ride on my amazing horse. I love how each thing seems to weave in with the other.


Grey Horse Matters said...

I also love to groom and tack up and just go through the whole process slowly and enjoy it. You are right, when something is rushed it is not enjoyable and the horse picks up on your tension of 'just get it done'. I find just getting it done often leads to taking longer than if you just took it slow from the start. It's pretty funny that he followed you into the tack room. I've had a few try it, only because they know that's where the treats are kept.

Victoria Cummings said...

That's the beauty of riding and writing, isn't it? Sounds like KB would like to be a lap dog if he could.

billie said...

Arlene, he has come halfway into the tack room before, but never all the way. We do keep the feed in there now but he seemed more interested in getting his entire body in there and just standing with me.

You know, as I type this I'm realizing exactly what this has stemmed from! I've been letting Rafer Johnson come into the tack room each morning as I get breakfast tubs ready. Rafer is perfectly content to stand and watch, and never tries to grab or stick his head into the various supplement bins. Keil Bay was inevitably trying to get the same privilege. Ha! Poor Keil Bay - even if he could resist the open bins and filled tubs, he couldn't stop himself from drooling all over everything, so it would never work!

billie said...

Victoria, I've said since we moved here that any of our horses would without doubt walk right into our living room if they had an access that allowed it.

One of my wish list ideas is to build a little writing studio/loft right behind the back field, flush with the fence with a huge picture window that opens completely so the horses can walk up, stick their heads in, and hang out with me while I write.

Elaine said...

Billie, I mentioned to you that my brother has donkeys. Well, his donkeys do exactly that--come up to his kitchen window to get apples and carrots in the morning. He says he loves it since it gives him a little extra time before he has to go outside to feed them their real breakfast!

I'm glad the writing is going so well. I think the thing I love most about writing books is the piece-by-piece part.

billie said...

Elaine, that's so sweet about the donkeys coming to the kitchen window.

Rafer Johnson would without question walk right up the steps to the deck and into the house, but Salina would have a fit if she couldn't come too!

I have often thought it would be fun to have a family room that opened to the horses in the barn so they could be with us late in the evenings.