By Lisa Acerbo
I have a love-hate relationship with two things in my life -- horseback riding and writing. I can’t seem to live without them, but I don’t do either as competently as I would hope. Maybe that’s okay because both have taught me many important lessons throughout the years.
Horseback riding and writing both take time and dedication. The first time on a horse is daunting. There’s too much to remember. And you can’t master it all in a single lesson. When on a horse, the right commands are critical. Riders must hold the reigns a certain way, relax their elbows, and position their heels down in the stirrups. Those are only a few of the hundreds of similar skills that must be mastered. What beginning rider can even comprehend what the correct diagonal and lead are?
Writing is similar. All the components must fit together for the story to work well. There needs to be well-developed characters, pacing, and plot. But these are only a few of the necessary elements. If a rider forgets to do something with a horse, it is likely his or her face will hit the dirt. This leaves some nasty bruises and scabs. With writing, when an author’s story falls flat, the audience moves on to other authors (or leaves a bad review). While internal, the scars feel about the same as a face plant in the dirt.
Yet, even when my story is awful and my body and ego are bruised from a bad ride, I can’t quit. There is something, whether a live animal or a developing character, waiting for me. Both need, no demand, my attention.
There’s a touch of crazy. Seriously. Who wants to get on the back of a 1000 pound beast just to race around a round pen, jump over cross rails and likely get thrown off? But people do every day and they love it. Most horseback riders spend every extra penny and all their time perfecting their jumping and pampering their horses. Writing is similar. You are pulling characters out of the netherworld, creating new settings, possibly new worlds, and putting them out for the public to see. You are putting every penny into promoting your book and developing your skills, whether through classes, writing groups or hours on the computer. It’s more than a hobby; it’s a calling. A slightly insane one, but a calling non-the-less.
It’s more than a skill. Riding a horse and writing a book are as much art as science. Don’t let anyone say otherwise. There is something magical between the horse and the rider and between the writer and the developing characters in a story that makes it all worthwhile. Ask most riders and they would sell their car (possibly more) for extra hours of riding. When a rider jumps 3’6” for the first time, there is an incredible feeling of accomplishment. And it’s not just all the practice and hard work, but the artistry between horse and rider. Writing a book is similar. The characters live, the world is real, and the problems are achingly universal. This takes more than skill to develop and courage to share.