Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Gayle Carline on Riding and Writing
Riding and Writing
When Michele asked me if I'd like to guest on her blog, my tail started wagging. I became friends with her at a writer's conference, when I was in one of her workshops and she mentioned horses. I have horses, too, and we both love to talk about horses, so it was karma for us to become friends.
Of course, our riding disciplines are completely different. She likes to jump, over… stuff. I compete in something called trail, an arena event that's basically a horsey obstacle course - with NO jumping. In my defense, I took my first riding lesson when I was 45, so I already knew I wouldn't bounce if I fell. I also knew how to spell P A R A P L E G I C.
While I was trying to think of what to write about, it occurred to me that our approaches to our careers have mirrored our riding styles.
I'm watching Michele as her star ascends. She has embraced the changes in the publishing industry and is riding them with the same enthusiasm as when she points her horse toward a jump. As a matter of fact, she approaches her business a lot like jumping. (For those of you who don't know, you don't just get on a horse, point them toward the fence and pitch the reins.) She sets the horse's pace, plans where they need to take the jump, and is looking to the next jump as soon as that last hoof hits the ground.
She's taken everything she learned over the years of being published and is using those lessons to take each book she writes from concept through publishing. Just like each jump has its own approach, each of her books has its own plan. She knows exactly what she has to do for each one before she takes that leap of publication. And, of course, she doesn't rest on the other side, not when there's another book to be lined up.
Riding a trail course takes the same amount of planning, but it's a much slower ride. Here's a clip of a winning trail ride at the American Quarter Horse Association's World Show, which is an invitational event. I'd like to point out a couple of things here - one is to notice how Mike Hoyt is steering his horse, which is so subtle I dare you to notice it at all. The other is to say that this is the Junior Horse class, meaning this horse is under 6 years old.
Not bad for a youngster.
My writing career has looked a lot like trail riding. Well, not MY trail riding, since that often looks like a drunken sailor trying to find his land legs. But trail riding in general. When you're riding a trail course, you need to look ahead to the next pole, sit deep in the saddle, and make it look smooth and effortless. It is not a timed event, so faster is not better. It is, however, precise. Your horse's hooves cannot touch a pole, they must be following the pattern exactly at the correct gait, and they should even have a specific number of strides between poles.
Like Michele, I make plans for each book, but like the trail course, I meander this way and that, considering all options, aiming for perfection. I get nothing done that way, unless you count the energy I expend obsessing over the manuscript I have in hand instead of writing the new one. And unlike Michele, I don't know when to plant and jump. My path is always winding around with only one place to plant: the finish line.
As you may have guessed, this is no way to run a career. I'm excited about the new age of publishing, and I want to be riding ahead of the herd. I may still be sitting back in the saddle on my horse, but I need to move forward with my books.
Michele is my inspiration, so I'm going to take a lesson from her style, put on my helmet and go for the verticals.
This week, I published a short story on Kindle. Within the month, I'll have my second murder mystery (in my Peri Minneopa Mystery series) on the Kindle, and on its way to trade paperback, for those who still like paper. I'm setting deadlines for getting the third mystery in the series completed, and I'm doing the prep work for a brand new mystery - set at a horse show.
Trail may not be a timed event, but I've just realized my career is.
Links to my books and everything:
FREEZER BURN (A Peri Minneopa Mystery)
WHAT WOULD ERMA DO? Confessions of a First-time Humor Columnist
CLEAN SWEEP (A Peri Minneopa Mystery Short)
My website is http://www.gaylecarline.com
My blog is http://gaylecarline.blogspot.com