Thursday, March 13, 2008

Training to Ride and Training to Write


Hi everyone,

Often when I sit down to write, I am thankful for the years I spent riding and showing because those experiences give me the ability to immerse my reader in the world of horses. It is also true that many of the qualities necessary to work with horses are the same qualities that make a good rider: patience, perseverance, dedication, and love of the craft.

When I was competing, I rode five or six days a week. My husband would see the endless no-stirrup work, basic dressage, and cavalettis and ask "Aren’t you bored? Wouldn’t you rather go on a trail ride?" The answer was always "Of course not." I was honing my craft, giving my horse the best chance to succeed and training to be the best possible partner for him.

The feeling of nailing the distance and sailing over the fence made all the hours in the saddle worth it. Pulling a course together so it just flowed was even better. Of course, my horses Spencer and Topper, made sure to keep me on my toes. Topper was a thoroughbred and Spencer a thoroughbred cross. If they were bored, they would entertain themselves by spooking at just about anything. They provided great inspiration to keep concentrating on the job at hand!

These are all the qualities I bring to my writing. Success as a writer requires learning to create believable characters, fast-paced plots, and of course, a wonderful setting. When I first began writing fiction I realized with an equestrian setting I was all set, but characterization, dialogue, and plotting was another matter. Just as I spent hours doing 10 and 20 meter circles with my equine partners, I wrote and rewrote scenes until my characters leapt off the page and the pace was designed to keep my readers turning pages. Of course, just as my trainer looked with a critical eye at those circles I was doing and almost invariably have additional suggestions, my critique group looked at those rewrites and helped me keep refining them.

Now my bookshelf is groaning not only with books on riding, but with books on writing technique and of course, my favorite equestrian authors like those here at Equestrian Ink. Of course, since I’m currently writing a contemporary fantasy with an equestrian theme, I also have a shelf dedicated to mythology, magical creatures, and witchcraft, including The Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells!

Over the years I’ve spent with horses and horse people I learned a great deal about hard work and dedication. Little did I know that besides the joy of being part of the horse world, my instructors—both human and equine— were teaching me skills I would take with me to every aspect of my life. Well, just as I always had to get back to that all-important flat work, it’s time to get writing.

Have a great day and Happy Riding!

Cheers,

Mary

6 comments:

KIT EHRMAN said...

Mary,

What an insightful post, and what an adorable horse! Is that Topper or Spenser? He is so cute!

Kit

Grey Horse Matters said...

Mary,
Nothing comes easy, riding or writing, but you have the most important part nailed, dedication to your craft. I am looking forward to more posts from all of the contributors on this blog. Welcome to the blogosphere.
Arlene

Janet Roper said...

So few peoples are aware that horses can be our teachers - not only teaching us equestrian skills, but life skills. Horses are very open to teaching the humans who choose to listen. Kudos to you on your awareness and sharing that with us!

Mary Paine said...

Hi Kit,

That's my Topper in the picture. He's in retirement now on my in-law's farm living in the lap of luxury. He's even getting homemade horse cookies!

Cheers,
Mary

Mary Paine said...

Hi Arlene,

Thanks for the welcome to the blogosphere! I'm delighted to be a part of this group.

Cheers,
Mary

Mary Paine said...

Hi Janet,

I agree with you completely. My daughter is already horse crazy and I hope she learns and grows with some wonderful equine friends.

Mary