“On the (plot) road again…”

Now over 39,000 words.  Wow, this book wants to be written, so far.  I need eyes that don’t tire from screen time and fingers (right hand in particular) that aren’t arthritic.    But it’s wonderful to be on the road with a book that wants to GO down that road.   That has dragged me away from the horses, reading, talking on the phone, let alone dishwashing, toilet cleaning, laundry folding and suchlike (it’s really EASY to drag me away from those; it requires minimal effort.  But dragging me away from talking with friends I love and don’t get to see that often anymore?  That takes a book with attitude and what horse people call “impulsion.”  Can I hit 40 thousand tonight?  Maybe not.  But tomorrow, in spite of needing to get to the feed store for more hay…yeah, probably.    And that’s the point at which it can’t be anything BUT a book, because novella-length stops at 40 thousand.  And there’s no way to trim, shape, or get this story into a size 40k word dress.

Unlike the last attempt at Vatta08, this book doesn’t ask me “So…what should happen now?  This?  Or maybe that?”   It’s telling me…”Cam leaves for Horngard.  We can skip how the arrangements were negotiated for now.  He’s got [stuff you shouldn’t know yet] with him and the first day is through large farm estates and then…and then…and then….there’s this trail marker…LOOK at it!  And another one…pay attention!…”  There’s stuff that can go in optionally to enrich the characters & setting, and stuff that  needs to be there, and when things “happen” they suddenly snap into place like puzzle pieces.  There’s always adjustments available, as the whole thing shapes itself…some incidents can move forward or back for best effect…but it’s just a blast to write.

This morning I woke up early, with where to go up front in my brain.  My friend & trainer Laci was coming to help me with a couple of horse things…and she got delayed some, so I after feeding and watering the beasts, I sat back down and wrote on…and on.  At least 1000 words before she got here

The day then meant the horse stuff got done (lessons in longe work, proving that both horse did know how but were not thrilled at having to do it, and the trimming of manes and tails for a) helping them stay cool, and b) keeping their long, almost ground length, tails from picking up thorny or otherwise sticky bits of weed stems off the ground while rolling.)   And writing work got done, and I got a 2 hour nap (which I needed after being up til midnight last night) AND got them fed,hayed, watered, and photographed, as you see below.

  Long-tailed Tigger in May.  I like long tails on horses but not the way long tails pick up sticks (thorny sticks in particular) and weed stems with stickers, and clover burs.  Then they form knots around those things.  Still a little grass, but very short.

Trimmed Tigger on July 4.

Tig and Rags, both trimmed up today.

Rags long-tailed in May

Rags trimmed up July 4


18 thoughts on ““On the (plot) road again…”

  1. I’m so glad it’s all happening for you! And the horses look in superb condition (and much better turnout once they were trimmed, like people always look better turned-out after a haircut).

    1. It’s been wonderful to feel that essential writing ability return. I thought after the four years without it, that it probably wasn’t going to. But it has. The horses do look tidier, and watching a lot of British riders on You Tube has given me an appreciation of that, even though I think some things are a bit obsessive. But a lot of English horses are naturally quite hairy, and carry heavy, thick, mud-catching manes and tails if not kept trimmed up, besides getting fungus problems under all that damp hair. Not many of ours–at least the western breeds–are hairy. Manes & tails are naturally thinner, legs aren’t hairy, even in winter coats. Tails and manes will grow long, but be generally thin, and thus not as difficult. The European standard for horse grooming has changed, with the recognition that cutting off the “whiskers” is really bad for horses; they need their vibrissae, those hairs on the muzzle, to sense things too close and near the muzzle to see. I think hear, with so many insects and also blowing dust/sand/etc, that they also need the hair that protects their ears. Horses with mustang blood usually have very furry ears. Show style here for Arabians is to shave off ear hair to make the ears “look better” but I won’t do that. I never trimmed off muzzle hairs, and rarely touch the “beard”. I trim fetlocks only in a wet winter, so I can see if they get a fungus coming on, but usually don’t need to. Yes, a horse all trimmed up looks prettier, but form over fashion is more my style. So conditions are just different (and my boys aren’t show horses.) England’s wetter, cooler, muddier, and the mix of breeds is generally hairier (TBs excepted.) We’re dryer, hotter, more dust & sand than mud, and our breeds (including both of mine) are adapted to this climate. I will admit they look tidier and it’s easier to manage a shorter mane and tail where thorny things are everywhere…but I still think that longer, natural, flowing manes and tails are more beautiful when a horse is running free.

      Some quarter horse people shave the mane entirely and cut the tail to hock length for competitions. I really don’t like that, but it’s their horse, so…I don’t tell them. I remember once riding a quarter-horse with a shaved mane bareback, and that can be a scary situation…esp. if it’s a plumpish QH, and you’re riding up a steep slope where normally you’d grab a hank of mane so you don’t slide off over its rump. The horse wanted to climb the slope in a series of short, powerful jumps.

    2. When I was a child, people used to “dock” horses – cut off their tails really short. Not nice, as the poor horse then had nothing to whisk flies away with. These were not show horses, but working horses who pulled milk carts or other small tradesmen’s carts. Not allowed now, thankfully – not that there are many small tradesmen who use horse-drawn carts now!

      For shows, people quite often plait their horse’s manes and, sometimes, their tails. “Heavy horses” with lots of feathering around their ankles, do get it washed and combed out, but I don’t know about trimming, unless it needs it. And I don’t think we trim facial hair, but could be wrong….

  2. I’ve always been amazed at how writers can be so creative. The complex worlds brought into being. I’m not a creative person when it comes to writing, my gifts lie elsewhere and a good writer like yourself or others I enjoy, can pull me into their creations. I always feel somewhat lost when I come to the end of a book, surprised it’s over.

    1. Thanks, Connie. I love books I can “fall into” and then come out of like someone coming out of a movie theater on a very bright day into traffic and people and so on. Glad to know my books do that for you.

  3. It’s no wonder that the ancients had to invent the “Muses” for us muggles. Those of you blessed by an art are like a supernatural gift to us, like glasses that would let the colorblind recognize spectrums in another dimension. Thank you.

    1. Not sparrows–cowbirds. Icterids, related to blackbirds. Cowbirds are a little bigger than our larger sparrows, and smaller than the grackles (the biggest of the icterids around here: we have a variety of them: the common, the boat-tailed, the great-tailed, and the last two are quite large, strong-billed.

  4. Your coming alive again as a writer reminds me of Paks after her session with Master Oakhallow and the fire. And my own sudden recovery from years of depression, a combination of a new pill and opening my home to single Afghan refugee women. The joy in doing the work one is meant to do is exhilarating. May it go on and on.

  5. Hi – glad to see you are writing. I notice that the photos of the horses show that they are eating – poor things, always hungry – and they look so lean – laughter. Stay safe and stay sane.

    1. Jonathan, thanks. I’m glad to be writing again, too. Got to 49,000 today. This book is *alive*. The horses are being horses–got their toes trimmed yesterday and were much better behaved than the time before. Of course it was very, very hot.

  6. I am so glad to hear that you are adding to this book series. I love getting lost in the entire world on lazy weekends. Thank you for all of the reading enjoyment and your service to our country.

    1. Thank you, Tim. I’m really enjoying having the brain pouring the story into my awareness rather than having to dig every detail out of a heap of gravel in my head.

  7. I trim for horse’s safety and comfort and a bit for my ease. Echo’s mane was kept long to give her protection. Bella’s is shorter to keep her from overheating and to keep her from developing mats. Her tail is trimmed for similar reasons (and to keep her from stepping on it). Feathers are trimmed to keep the legs drier (though a bit is left to wick moisture) … beard just enough to avoid having it catch in the noseband.

    I love hearing that your writing is returning because it makes you happy (and I’m hoping to read it eventually). I also like the pictures of the happy healthy horses.

  8. I just found this site and I am excited to hear that you are writing new material. I am sorry to hear Vatta08 is giving you an issue, I just re read Vatta’s War and Vatta’s Peace…for the Nth time and tis one of my favorite space genre books, right next to webers honor harrington and I have one question. Have you ever let out who built that base on miksland? I am in favor of alien race like idk, space elves, but thats one mystery I have been overly curious about.

    1. Thanks, Christopher. That was something I was working on….I’m hoping that having NewBook coming along smoothly will reconnect a few more neurons and let me get another Vatta book out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.