|Murphy and me|
A couple of weekends ago, I swung into the saddle for a two day trail ride with Terri Farley and eight other writers. Terri is the author of Seven Tears into the Sea and the Phantom Stallion Series. Not only is Terri a well-known author, she is also an advocate for wild horses.
Terri’s workshop, Writin’ Riders, was held at the Wild Horse Sanctuary near Redding, California. The sanctuary encompasses five thousand acres of rugged beauty below the foothills of Mt. Lassen, where hundreds of wild horses have found a home. During the trail ride, we were lucky to see many of these beautiful animals.
Upon arriving the morning of the ride, Terri gave a brief overview of the workshop: character, conflict, and the five senses being the focus. She gave us little notebooks, fitting perfectly into our back pocket for recording any information or thoughts we may have.
After six hours in the saddle, we arrived at our base camp. The camp actually had a shower in a water tower and outhouses with flush toilets! We chose cabins and cabin mates and then relaxed until a cowboy barbeque. That evening, by lantern light, we sat around a table near the campfire and discussed character and conflict and the importance of bringing your writing to life using the senses. We brainstormed, wrote short stories and then shared them, enjoying everyone’s creativity.
|Sharing our writing|
In the morning, we saddled up for the long ride back to the Wild Horse Sanctuary. As I rode along on my horse, Murphy, I thought about Terri. Not only is she a well-known author, but she works tirelessly saving wild horses. Because of her, many horses running free today at the sanctuary have escaped the slaughterhouse and found a home. And as I enjoyed watching so many colts and fillies, the “ new generation” I imagined if they could, they’d thank Terri.
|A wild mare and her foal|
Who knows . . . maybe the wild horses whinnying were saying just that. As for me, this monkey on horseback thanks you, Terri, for an amazing writer’s workshop.
In the end, I leave you with the senses that I recorded. I hope they will help you to envision this unique and wonderful writing experience.
Sight- trails made by wild horses, dusty pathways over and around volcanic rock, up and up to the top of the world where hazy vistas of the Sacramento Valley spread far below. Spiky white pine, thick junipers, Manzanita bushes and tiny purple wild flowers, bleached horse bones, jade-green watering holes, curious wild horses, a black night stretched tight across the sky crowded with bazillions of bright stars.
|Looking out over the Sacramento Valley|
Hearing-the clip-clop of horseshoes upon rock, horses snorting, the jingle of a bridle, the creak of saddle leather, the wind playing in the pines, teasing the junipers, the cry of a hawk, the call of a quail, a wild horse whinnying, the campfire crackling, the cowboy dinner bell clanging, laughter, soft voices rising and falling on the evening breeze, pens scratching on paper, a shared story. Nature’s peaceful quiet.
Touch-a horse’s velvety nose, like butterfly wings across the palm of your hand, the apple gone, the horse nudging for more, blowing great puffs of air into your ear. Being held captive by the hot, June sun and at last set free by icy, spring water plashed upon your face. Thorny buck brush and prickly live oak. Snuggling into your sleeping bag after a long days ride, muscles aching yet satisfied.
Taste-flavorful camp coffee, tangy cowboy beans, icy spring water, a cold beer, peppery sausage and gravy poured over fluffy biscuits, scrambled eggs and sweet, red strawberries.
Smell-brittle pine and spicy juniper on a warm breeze, the heavenly, honey smell of a horse, the pungent smell of campfire smoke, a sweet summer’s evening, camp coffee brewing, a fresh, rosy dawn.
|Evening at camp|
So next year, no matter where you are in your writing, grab your boots and saddle up for a Writin’ Riders Workshop!