OK — all of you who don’t get the whole horse thing, look away now.
The rest of you may be familiar with my opinions on writing and riding and the parallels to be found therein. I’ve blathered on before about ‘throughness’ — a dressage term that describes the perfect communication of intent between rider and horse — and the fact that it’s equally applicable to the perfect connection between writer and reader. I’m much better at achieving throughness as a writer than a rider; so much so, that I can usually tell which passages will be quoted in my reviews, because they’re the ones that come out of an almost trance-like state of throughness, straight from the subconscious. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s as if a direct channel of communication has been established between some deep place in my psyche and the reader. The writing that results often surprises even me.
But I’m disgruntled with both writing and riding at the moment. I blame it on February, or maybe all the rain. (Though I do quite like the fact that There Is No Dog has forty days and forty nights of rain in its otherwise modern narrative. So perhaps I’m to blame for all this miserable weather? Or am I indulging in one of those pesky psychotic delusions again?) The problem is that the book refuses to get finished. I’m fed up with my 19-year-old God, and every time I think the end of the book is nigh, it turns out to be just another false summit. My agent says this is what happens when you take on life, the universe, and God as a topic. I think she’d like to use the word hubris.
As for riding, I was feeling so strong and secure and competent sometime around Christmas, and after six weeks of ice, lousy weather, a horse with a sore back, and hardly any riding at all, I’m all floppy and hopeless. For our last few lessons, Moss and I have been looking significantly more Laurel and Hardy than Torville and Dean. Not his fault. He’s the beauty, I’m the beast. My lack of throughness lets him down.
I always feel guilty complaining about any element of my life — being a writer is so much lovelier and more pleasant than virtually any other job — (with the possible exception of dreaming up movie titles). I get time off to sleep and think and walk dogs and ride horses, and can call all of it part of my working day. But some days (and weeks), when throughness continually evades my grasp, I feel clumsy, nervous, exhausted from the effort, and disappointed with the result.
With a strong heart and enough hard graft, I’m sure it’ll all come out OK.
If I don’t break my neck first.