Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of being interviewed about Still Life with Horses by several very talented women writers. Each interview posed questions about my book which were all interesting to consider. Questions like: How did this book begin? How do you write about animals and avoid sentimentality? Why is it that working with horses is such a powerful transformative experience, especially for women? It was a kind of intellectual pleasure to answer these and the rest of the questions posed.
That said, here are two of the interviews that are out there, “live”:
My sabbatical year is now, and has been for a few weeks, officially at an end. I’m back in the classroom, and the committee meetings, and the long commute. Back to that kind of free-floating anxiety that comes with this job: the cloud of so many things that must be done, things half-remembered, or overdue, things that could be done, ideas and responsibilities and conversations and worries, the gray cloud that slouches behind you all day, every day, shows up in your dreams, eats lunch with you, sits beside you, gets between you and the book you are trying to read, the papers you are trying to comment on..
I’d forgotten about this.
A year away and there was no cloud, nothing between me and the work of writing. While on sabbatical, I felt at my desk as I always do working in the barn. When mucking stalls, grooming horses, cleaning tack, moving hay, riding — all the work and pleasure of horses — the cloud just isn’t there. There is something about working with your body that clears the mind. Your hands are busy, and your imagination is loosed.
.So now, to recreate “barn mind,” I make time every morning to work at my analog desk.* The desk was my mother’s, and her mother’s before her. Solid mahogany, a drop leaf writing surface, the desk probably about a hundred years old, maybe more. It’s a desk made for writing by hand. I sit at this desk in the morning, write longhand as long as I can. And the cloud goes away. Even if it’s only for a few hours, this makes all the difference.
The latest blurb of my book is from Barb Shoup, Executive Director of the Indiana Writers Center, and author of Looking for Jack Kerouac and An American Tune.
Still Life with Horses will make you fall in love…with the strength and silence of horses and learn to believe in the healing power of giving oneself fully to the care and pleasures of another living being. Honest, unflinching, it shimmers with the light of life unfolding.
So glad to have Barb’s generous words!
And, for your amusement, a photograph of Buddy and me, winners of the costume class, Earlham College, 2005.