Blogging Influences

Work: PM1 groom/PM2 groom & group walk [twox3/4].
Report: no heat therapy. Microwave broken. Plus – improved on second lap of walk. Minus – will graze at location x. On the end of halter at location x, he displays tension. Sigh.

Ramblings for the Day: Authors never write alone. At the end of each month (or close thereto), I pause like a caterpillar [4/1 oops, centipede] counting her feet to examine the process of blogging. This month, the books & authors I channel, or try to channel, while I type my posts:

Direct Influence
In “A Visit to the Barber Shop” ( I’m a Stranger Here Myself [Broadway 1999 pb2000]), Bill Bryson starts with “I have very happy hair.” and goes on for four pages about a recent haircut. Anyone can tell a fish story. It takes brilliance to make a reader care about your fish story. To that end, I have loaded Bryson in the car’s CD player. I make a conscious effort to notice his use of metaphors, overstatement, and exaggerated precision. Whether or not I succeed will be up to my biographers to decide.

Indirect Influence
Before my life as a blogger, I wrote articles for horse magazines: show coverage, expert interviews, health care. Informative stuff with the potential for dryness if the writer did not wrestle life and humor into the text. My hero for this style of writing is John Phillips of Car & Driver. His articles entertain without omitting a single engine specification to appease the gearheads, of which I most definitely am not one. For example, In “Project Car: The Lounge Lizard” [C&D November 1998, archived here], his first sentence reads, “If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it… well, maybe I have only said it once: Anything weighing two tons and casting a 17.7-foot shadow ought to be a national monument.” Would that I could come up with as good a start to an article on fly spray.

For the blog, I do not consciously look to Phillips the way I do Bryson, but since I wrote these articles for over 20 years and have only been doing the daily blog for 3 months, I figure elements of that style have lingered.

When I started this project as a monthly column for the USEA website back in 2010, I envisioned Back to Eventing as my answer to Kip Goldreyer‘s Thinking Horseman column in Practical Horseman. I would pontificate in a warm and witty fashion on my graceful rise from acquiring a new horse to riding in the American Eventing Championships. Of course, there would be hiccups, this was horses after all, but such setbacks would be occasions for me to indulge in philosophical discourses on the nature of progress, with my trademark touch of humor. However, when your main activity consists of standing at the fenceline admiring the sleek coat and beautiful movement of your pasture ornament, you quickly run out of activity upon which to pontificate.

In the Acknowledgements to The Chronicles of the $700 Pony [Half Halt 2006*], Ellen Broadhurst thanks the folks on the Chronicle of the Horse bulletin Board who “provided a venue for my writing and then encouraged, cajoled, threatened and ultimately provided the impetus for me to make my words from cyberspace to the printed page.” That’s what I wanted. A supportive cyber-community that would pester me for the important details & shoot me down when I got bogged on the unimportant ones, leading to my award-winning book about my award-winning horse. But, as above, you cannot cajole and comment if I do not give you activity to c&c upon.
(*Out of print but soon to be rereleased on Kindle.)

That was then; this is now. The economic downturn has not been kind to the freelance market. So, as I said on the About page, I have committed myself to a daily blog for one year as a writing exercise. I’m taking advice from another favorite writer, Michael Perry, “Raised on a small dairy farm, Perry equates his writing career to cleaning calf pens – just keep shoveling, and eventually you’ve got a pile so big, someone will notice.”

Yesterday was my 100th post. Yikes! Today is 101. 264 to go.

Previous blogging posts
Numbers Game [March 9 for February 29]
Life As a First Draft [Jan 31]

Writers, which authors inform your work?

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