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December 23, 2013: Mr. Siggi’s Legacy

I’ve been working pretty intensively on a revision of my article about our summer trip – it centers around the events leading up to Mr. Siggi’s death, his actual death, and the events that followed. Some on the Icelandic Horse Quarterly Committee were unhappy with what I wrote. Some said that it bespoke of negligence, while others said that it was an inappropriate article for a breed publication—one that purports to promote the breed.

Those who hide behind the guise of the internet can sometimes be brutal in their commentary – and this was one of these occasions. So I set the article aside for a bit and told these very committee members that in time I’d

revise my article. One member then retorted that this was impossible – Pete and I were irresponsible in going up on Argentine Pass, and that was that.

I later mentioned this to Pete who then said “How do any of them know what happened? They weren’t there!” What I then knew that I needed to do was to write the article in such a way as to make my readers feel like they were there. So this is what I’ve since been attempting to do.

In rereading what I wrote some time ago, I could then see why the editorial board members said what they said. The first draft that they saw was quite obviously a catharsis, an emoting in which I attempted to make myself feel better about what happened. My draft was also full of doubt and uncertainty. And additionally, it was dark, very dark.

So in the second go-around I wrote less about Mr. Siggi’s death and more about the people that Pete and I met afterwards. I also wrote more about what we did to prepare for our trip – thus making us both appear to be more competent.

As I’ve often said in these dispatches, good writing is always the end result of problem solving. In this case, the content-related problems were related to the subject matter. And the form-related problems were related to structural difficulties. I finally decided to use a fairly straight chronology in telling my story, and then in the end tie everything together by articulating a very important realization. This was that Mr. Siggi taught me many things, in both his earthly and corporeal manifestations.

The bulk of my conceptualizing is now behind me. I now need to go back and fill in the blanks, inserting relevant details where needed.

I haven’t let myself question why I initially spent so much time on this particular article, and then later, spent twice as much time revising it. After all, it’s not anything that I’m going to get paid for. And in fact, it might again be roundly rejected. I guess I wanted my now primary audience – Icelandic horse owners, to know exactly what happened. And I also wanted them to know that in this particular instance, important and life-changing realizations were the end result.