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January 14, 2019: The Writing Life: The Defining Moment

I wrote the other day about my enviable commute. I’m sure that other writers lead lives in which they also have commutes of 15 minutes or less. More power to us. But all of us, no matter what length our commute might be, have a defining moment, that is a point in time when we stop rehearsing, which is thinking about what we’re going to write and actually then either start or resume writing. This thought process continues as the writer procrastinates and perhaps (as I might) check their email. The analogy of crossing a bridge is in this instance most apt. There is the pre-writing time, the writing time, and the post-writing time.

The above-mentioned defining moment with its complementary sense of dread lasts no more than a few seconds. There’s a distinct

Alysat the end of bike trip from Maine to Oregon
Alys at the end of bike trip from Maine to Oregon

emotional change that takes place as the writer enters the zone in examining the copy and making the first of many decisions. The feeling of dread is then replaced by a feeling of what I can only describe as a sense of relief. This is because there is always that prior fear that no progress will be made on this particular day.

I also think that when rehearsing, we consider more writerly options than we can act upon, no matter how carefully thought out our ideas might be.

Today’s example. I had decided in working on my proposal to specifically focus on the section in which I write about why I think that Trafalgar Press might be a good fit for The Gift of a Good Ride. I had a lot of ideas, but of course if I included them all, I’d have five pages of kiss-ass material. I subsequently had to figure out what was most important, and say it in a paragraph.

A sense of euphoria set in as I realized that, yes, my book would be a good fit for this press and that my ideas, which took the form of a continuous narrative, were legitimate. I also sensed that I was forging new ground in my write-up, for I used self-example in making my claim. What I wrote is as follows:

There are numerous presses out there that specialize in publishing horse-related books: Skyhorse Press, Story Publishing, Free Press, Lyons Press, and Ring Press included. However, your press is number one on my list, and for a variety of reasons. First of all, to my knowledge, none of these presses exclusively publish horse-related books. This is important to me because my editorial content concerns will be near-exclusively horse and Centered-Riding specific.

In glancing at the books in my extensive horse library, I noted that the trademark T and the words Trafalgar Square have been embossed on the spine. I’ve read all these books, and most more than once. Right now, your how-to books come to mind, and more specifically, Wendy Murdoch’s Five-Minute Fixes, Vanessa Bee’s Up, Over, and Under and Jim Masterson’s Beyond Horse Massage. The cover photos were such that I thumbed through the book itself, and then focused on the content. In my theory to practice, my initial thought, that the information was organized in a comprehensible fashion, was verified. I’ve referred to the books when inside and outside – they’ve been snuffed by horses and set on their spines on fifty-gallon drums. They also were none the worse for wear, even after my having used hoof picks as temporary place markers. The material is accessible, but at the same time, your authors talk to me rather than down to me.

I’m looking for a press that will assist me in my distribution efforts. In this respect, your press is at the top of my list. Your very artful catalogues are an outhouse mainstay, and when they’re finally dogeared, are passed on to horsey friends. Reviews of your books also routinely appear in print magazines such as Equus and Practical Horseman. You also do an excellent job in your use of social media. I often get notices in my email in regards to new books in print.

My main area writerly and readerly focus is memoir writing. In the process of reading In the Middle are the Horsemen, I became even more convinced that I wanted your press to publish The Gift of a Good Ride. This is because you obviously put a high value on narrative reliability. Honesty, self-reflection, considerable soul searching, and an adherence to factual detail are defining characteristics of this term.

Lastly, you’re the publisher of Sally Swift’s Centered Riding I and II, the mainstays of my stable. These are books that did well on the mass horsey market, so it seems most appropriate to me that you now publish a book on which Sally Swift’s basics are again stated and advanced.

I thought that what I said was to the point and well-said when I was done writing this. Undoubtedly, additional revisionary changes will come to mind tomorrow. Some I’ll act upon and some I won’t. What’s most important here is that I successfully dealt with the defining moment and produced prose that I was at least momentarily pleased with.

Next: 15. 1/15/19: Maintenance Day

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