Sunday, October 18, 2009

more on retreat, with more magic

I've gotten so much done since arriving on Friday afternoon. It feels possible that I'll get an entire first draft done this week. We'll see.

As usual, the magic mansion seems to attract magic.

Yesterday one of my writer companions got me to come out to the barn - as she was walking past she realized a horse was loose. So I went down to help out.

The horse was a huge, glossy black Hungarian driving horse, one of four who are here being trained to compete in next year's WEG competition.

He had unlatched his stall door and taken a break. Fortunately, the owner/trainer happened to drive up right then and was able to get the horse back into his stall. These four are gorgeous. I'm sure I'll see them in harness, driving, more than once this week.

We had our cocktail and critique last night. As usual, it's wonderfully inspiring to hear other writers read what they're working on. I'm a bit superstitious about reading from very new material that's still in progress, so I didn't read. But even thinking about reading it can be helpful, and today I had a wonderful scene that popped out of nowhere, except that of course it WASN'T nowhere - it was out of the collective creative cauldron that gets simmering when you put writers together.

Right now I'm in a local coffee shop, that is also a gallery for local artists/crafters to sell their wares. It's like Etsy in person! And they're setting up to teach a class, which is actually more inspiration. It all churns into the creative mix. I love it.

And, in a moment of synchroncity, Dr. Thomas Ritter, who runs the Classical dressage list I'm on, sent through a post that really made me pause. He has given me permission to quote from it here. In a way, it speaks to what I'm writing about in the book I'm diving into this trip.

What makes riding so interesting and addictive is that it is a lot
of things. It is a craft. It is an art. It is a sport. It is also a
science. In some ways it is simply applied physics. It has
parallels with the practice of medicine. It is a healing art in the
sense of physical therapy. It is applied psychology. It also has an
intuitive, psychic side that must not be underestimated. It has
things in common with yoga, pilates, dance, and music. These
different aspects draw different types of people, and in order to
go to the top and fulfill one's potential, the rider has to try and
become as competent as possible in all these areas. Nobody can
possibly master them all, which is why especially the truly great
riders always emphasize that it takes more than one lifetime to
master dressage.

Focusing on one aspect to the exclusion of the others lets the
rider fall short of his or her potential. Somebody who sees riding
exclusively as a sport and wants nothing to do with the other
aspects will always remain on the surface. Somebody who sees it
only as an art and does not take the technical, craftsmanship side
or the athletic side seriously, will be held back by these
shortcomings. Someone who gets too wrapped up in the physics and
technique and never develops feel and intuition, will not get very
far, either, etc. The best riders I have met all combined a fairly
high competence level in most of these areas. They were all fit and
athletic, highly intuitive, with an excellent understanding of
psychology, biomechanics and conformation, and they had spent their
entire lifetime practicing the craftsmanship side until it had
become second nature, so that they were able to transcend technique
and leave the text book path behind when necessary in order to find
a practical solution to a problem through the application of
intuition and artistic creativity.

Thank you, Dr. Ritter. It makes so much sense to me, as a rider AND a writer.


Peggy Payne said...

Any ghosts, Billie?

Grey Horse Matters said...

Great post Billie. I'd love to see those horses in harness they must be beautiful. I'm with you on being a little superstitious about reading new material to others,I never let anyone see what I'm working on until it's done.

As for Dr. Ritter, what a wonder piece he's written. I agree wholeheartedly with his everything he's written here. Unfortunately, I am relatively sure I could never hope to achieve all he has laid out so eloquently. On the other hand as I read this, I pictured my daughter J. she seems to have almost all the attributes he mentions. You and her really have to get together someday, it seems to me you are both so much alike, you would definitely have a lot to talk about. Enjoy the rest of your stay at the mansion.

Michelle said...

How exciting!! I can't wait to see what you come up with. I imagine it will be fantastic - it's obvious from you writing here that you have a way with words. Have you always written or is this a relatively new endeavor? How did you get started?

Anonymous said...

As usual, I find such inspriration from your blog entries! What lovely articulation of horse riding from Dr. Ritter - makes me feel less off-track than usual. :)

Enjoying vicarious experience of writing retreat - what fun. I think it's great that you didn't read when you didn't feel like it. I don't like sharing early in the process either. And a ghost. Perfection! Thanks for sharing.


billie said...

Arlene, I hope I can meet J. too - I'd love (LOVE) to have her as my trainer.

I'm definitely going to need a few more lifetimes to master all that Dr. Ritter laid out.

In another way, though, the enormity of it all is what appeals to me. There is no end to the learning process.

billie said...

Michelle, I have three adult novels that are finished - the first one had two agents and came close to selling, but is now set aside.

The second one is with two agents, and the third one is with an agent right now too...

This middle grade novel is my first attempt at that age group, so we'll see!

I also have a nonfiction book in progress that I want to finish after I get this middle grade done.

I think I came out of the womb wanting a horse, and wanting to write... :)

billie said...

Peggy, see previous post!

billie said...

Hi, Wendy... I think Dr. Ritter covers it all in his words about riding.

It's being a good retreat. (always is, actually, but each one seems like the best one when I'm having it!)