Write what you love, they said. Write what you know, they said. It will flow, it will be authentic, you will never want for inspiration.
And all those things are true, except that sometimes life takes you on a strange ride and the things that you know and love might not be in front of you all the time. Or at all. And you begin to forget things -- gossamer little threads that are essential to bridging the gap between what is imagined, and what is real -- and sometimes the sentences become harder to craft, the scenarios harder to picture, the reactions of the horses and the humans harder to judge.
For the past year and a half, maybe longer, I've been living horse-free. It wasn't by choice, just the way things turned out. I've tried to live it up, these days without the restriction of being back to feed or worrying about the weather. I've done a lot of traveling that wouldn't be possible if I had horses to think about, for one thing. And everywhere I've gone, I've looked for horses to inspire me.
Sometimes it's as simple as laying a hand on a hot neck, bursting with veins on a summer's day. Sometimes it's as subtle as watching dark eyes following the paths of tourists on a busy evening in Times Square. Sometimes it's as immersive as wrapping my arms around a horse's neck and just hugging, hugging, hugging.
Every little interaction is the fuel I need to keep writing about horses and horse-people. My next Alex and Alexander novel, Turning For Home, is almost there. I couldn't have done it without these horses.
To the horses that I met in my travels this year: thank you for the inspiration. I'll keep on remembering, and I'll keep on writing.
|Unnamed beauty in the paddock at Del Mar, July 2014|
|I don't know this roan lovely's name. I was taking pictures of his glorious bare feet. July 2014.|
|That time I spent a half hour snuggling with a pony at Saratoga. August 2014.|
|Another mystery draft, this one at Walt Disney World in Florida. April 2014.|
|Sure, they're statues. But something about their pricked ears and bright expressions really spoke to me. |
Terra-cotta horses at Epcot, Walt Disney World, October 2014.
|Visiting with NYPD Mounted horses is always a highlight of any trip.|
The Fountain of Planets, Flushing Meadows Park, July 2014.
|Reminding me of what a racehorse in her glory should look like.|
Belmont Park, June 2014.
Have you ever been separated from horses for a long period of time? How do you handle the time apart?