Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It All Comes Down To This

I've read my new book about six times in the past two weeks. 

It's not because I am obsessed with my new book (maybe I am a little bit) but because I'm an obsessive editor, in general. So I've been reading and rereading, tweaking and changing and fixing word by word, line by line, trying to get the best possible execution of this story I'm trying to tell. And when I'm done reading it, my husband reads it, and does the same, and then I have to add in all of his changes -- which means reading it one more time.

I have to admit, there are times when I am a little tired of my new book.

But reading it can be a fascinating experience for me, as well. Because throughout Ambition, just as throughout Other People's Horses, The Head and Not The Heart, Claiming Christmas, and Horse-Famous, I'm reading new accounts of old experiences I've had. 

Most of my racing stories draw upon my time as an exercise rider, both at the training centers and at the racetrack, along with years spent working at breeding farms in Ocala. I started doing this when I was nineteen or twenty, so I was somewhat an adult by then. (This is debatable).

Amarillo and I, Ocala 2000-ish
But before I got into the racing business, I was a kid riding event horses. (Almost -- I started riding hunters, but soon learned that if I wanted to gallop, the cross-country course was where it was at.) Over the years I became somewhat obsessed with dressage, not because I loved discipline or being confined to an arena, but because the very occasional perfection of connection with my horse that dressage training allowed was the most amazing feeling on earth. And when the arena got too confining, I always had the option of jumping some very large jumps. 

Sure, once in a while, I took a very hard fall.

And I dealt with some serious crazy. 

Crazy horses, crazy people. Out-and-out broncs, out-and-out crooks, and more than a few horses and people who were behaving like criminals but maybe didn't mean to.

(It's easier to fix the horses. I learned that very, very young! It just didn't always look the prettiest.)

Ambition is the first book I've written about eventing, and the experiences I have drawn upon to write it began back in my elementary school days. Being the working student, riding the cheap horse, and trying to go it alone -- I know all about that. I might not be as ambitious or driven as Jules (I haven't been on a horse in a year, and I know Jules would never, ever stand for that) but I definitely know where she's coming from. And that makes Ambition so powerful to me, to read again and again, and find, amongst the fiction, all my little true stories woven into the tale. 

Every time I write a new story, I feel like it gives my life meaning. Not this very moment, which needs no validation -- but all the time I have spent in the saddle, mucking stalls, scrubbing buckets, washing horses, raking shed-rows... It all means something. It all comes down to this: to this story that I can share with the world.

Ambition is coming to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes at the end of the month. I can't wait to share this story with the all of you in the equestrian community!


Gayle Carline said...

How exciting! Good luck, Natalie!

Laura Crum said...

This post really resonated for me--this is exactly how I feel about my own books. I no longer team rope, or show cutting horses, or train horses...and it's been a long time since I went horse packing in the mountains. But I did all those things--for many years--and my books validate this and bring those experiences back to life for me. So even if no one ever read my stories, they still do something important--just for me. Thanks for expressing this feeling so well.

Natalie Keller Reinert said...

Thanks Gayle and Laura!

Laura Crum said...

Wishing you many, many sales...

Alison said...

Great plot and GREAT cover! You do find the best cover photos, something I could never get my editors to do at big old Random House.