Saturday, January 31, 2009

More Writing by Janet Huntington

I think of myself as a story teller more than a writer. I have had stories swirling through my mind as long as I remember having thought.
I started writing them down and drawing little pictures to go with before I could read.
"Mom, how do you draw D-O-G?"
I was so intent on sharing my stories I didn't care how it was done. I would draw a picture, try to write it down, act them out for my little brother or simply let them rumble through my mind, saving them to tell another day.
I stood tall and proud as I told my first grade class about our family summer vacation in Africa. I told everyone about our camp set up in the middle of the jungle.
My heart pounded and my hands shook as I told of the wild herd of giraffes rampaging through our camp.
My eyes filled and I choked back a sob while I related the shattering experience of my father being run down, in a heroic effort to save his children.
I stared each one of my disbelieving classmates down as I described the giraffe hoof prints that travelled across his back, " this very day!"
My closest contact to the African velde was watching Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom on Sunday morning. But as I watched Marlin Perkins send his good man Jim into one more lion's den I disappeared into the screen. I rode those zebras and wrestled the biggest crocs.
As I stood in front of Sister Mary Francis Brown's class at St. Thomas Apostle telling my tale, I could almost believe it had actually happened.
And so it went. As a second grader, playing in the woods of a suburb outside of Chicago, I became so lost in the forest I threw myself sobbing in a giant pile of leaves. I rolled over on my back, staring at the fading blue of the late afternoon sky, knowing for sure I was going to die alone.
A kind and concerned old woman stopped and tried to console me. I told her of my dark and cold days, how hungry I was, how I was looking for my puppy and lost my way.
She kindly offered me her hand, tears rolling down her cheeks, when my mother called from across the street, "Janet! Dinner time!"
There was no way to convince the old woman I was as shocked as she was, so I simply ran home.
I stood at the top of the stairs, listening to my mother explain to the embarrassed and angry woman how I had only been out for an hour. I was a little different, yes. No, I didn't have a puppy.
Her voice sounded tired. Maybe a little amused.
I wondered if I might be able to have a puppy.
I wrote story after story. As I grew older the horses played a more important role in all of them. I learned to keep my stories on paper. I wrote of wild stallions, magical unicorns, good old cowhorses.
In junior high I wrote of race horses who could never win, cowponies who died pining for their best friend, a good dog.
In high school I wrote a story about an angry girl and her beautiful horse Raphael. They travelled back in time and found the place they really belonged. I worked on it for two years. I drew hundreds of illustrations to go with it. It ended with the girl not knowing what her fate would bring. Her horse died.
As I grew into adulthood I still wrote the occasional story. I had to. The stories still raced across my mind. Sometimes I just scribbled a few notes so I wouldn't forget. Sometimes I would tell the whole story. They weren't about horses anymore.
I learned the difference between the reality of my life and the fiction of my stories. But they still protected me from the parts I didn't want to see.
Then I started this wild blog thing.
I wrote the truth, but only the parts that didn't hurt. Then I went ahead and wrote about some of the hard parts too.
It's funny. When I started to finally write about the real deal, things began to happen. I got a job as a writer. My real stories are what have begun to bring me success. My real life with horses is what has brought me into this new life as a writer.
But I still have these stories.....


Anonymous said...

I loved this post. In retrospect, your storytelling is hysterical, but I can imagine how real it seemed to you at the time. I did something similar, but perhaps not quite with such verve and enthusiasm. But my constantly imagining stories and fantasy worlds is the thing which eventually made me a writer. I can feel the connection to this day.

Anonymous said...

And I can't wait to read more of your stories! With the first sentence about Africa, I was beginning to think, wow, you had gone to Africa, until the giraffes! lol! See how believing you are!!! Yes, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. When we take that big gulp and do something that we're not sure that we should, things roll into place. When we go with our heart and soul, we follow the path that we are meant to follow.

ezra_pandora said...

The favorite parts of my life are recounting my stories of the adventures my little bestfriend and I had. At one point, I think for her 18th birthday, I had wrote down all of the stories that I could think of in a little journal for her to keep. Sure, it was my perspective, but I was always the goofy one between the two of us, so they were a little different than what she remembered and she cracked up. A few made for a good maid of honor speech at her wedding too ;) We all love hearing yours.

Heidi the Hick said...

I love your honesty.

It's one of the hardest things, as a writer, but I believe it's what makes you believable.

I was the same kind of imaginative kid... my ponies and I went on all kinds of mental adventures together!

KD said...

I'm enjoying getting to know Janet as well as "Mugwump".

mugwump said...

Laura-I made my parents hysterical, in a kind of straight jacketish sort of way...
Brenda-ah Africa. My teacher made me tell that story to each class in the school, thinking I would be embarrassed by the time I got to my brother and sister's classes. Not me, by then I believed it, they weere the ones who were horrified.
ezra-what a cool idea, of course the goofy one is the one who turns them into toasts
Thank you Heidi.
Cool KD, I'm gettimg to know me too.

HorseOfCourse said...

My daughter always got so sleepy when we were out riding when she was younger.
To keep her awake I had to invent mystery stories starring my daughter, her friends and their horses as the sleuths, kind of like Enid Blyton copies but with horses in it.
They participated in a number of kidnapping cases, horse rescues, blackmailings, robberies and booty discoveries.
As time went by I got more and more impressed with the fantasy of all writers out there because I really had to work hard to put together yet another story, different from the 3948 I had told before, lol.
But we had some good time together.

Anonymous said...

Janet, I can sit and read anything you write all day long to the exclusion of everything else. When you write about the techniques you use training I am positively enthralled with how clearly and simply you are able to describe everything, not to mention I always learn something; when you write about Sonita I feel like I am riding right beside you, not to mention how I can feel your emotions. I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know you and btw, I so completely loved your artwork that it took my breath away. You are one talented lady and I am delighted to have found you!

Anonymous said...

OH! BTW, I also grew up in Catholic school....those are a book of stories in and of themselves! The nuns never understood my complete tunnel vision about horses. Every paper, every story had a horse in it.

a fine horse said...

"Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows will fall behind you."
I love this saying (Maori?) and I always take it to mean that when you are on your true path, amazing things's like you tap into a different level of the universe somehow.
Don't mean to go all mystical on you mugs, but you have a very special and fabulous voice, keep writing!