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working writer wending her way through the labyrinth that is self-publishing

Friday, May 6, 2011

Nashville...steeplechase and riding in the distant past

We've been here in Nashville since tuesday...what a great city! rife with bicycle trails, parks and hilly forests filled with hardwoods. Temps have been hovering around 68* with bright sun in a cloudless sky. Took a walk next to a steeplechase track today--horses abound in pastures fronting large and stately homes.

 On that note I will get to the excerpt I've chosen for this post...I've taken my own advice and changed this passage from third to first person...(reworking to send it in to a literary magazine) and I would love feedback about which one you prefer. If it's first person, I will have a mighty job on my hands since I've written about 200 pages in third already...but if it breathes more life into the writing then I am happy to do the work!

      My stomach lurched as the pole clattered behind us as we landed. Percy’s hoof had grazed it, bringing it down.  I put my right leg into the young gelding shortening up on the left rein pushing him  toward the next jump. This one was an in-and-out and needed all of my concentration. I bent over his neck.
     “C’mon Percy, you can do it,” I whispered as I put my spurs into his flanks. I straightened him, heading directly at the white and green poles, giving him his head for the first jump. He cleared it with a foot to spare but there was only a stride before the second one. I held him back slightly and then urged him over as I leaned forward for balance. I let out my breath as we landed on the other side without mishap and headed toward the last jump. It took all my strength to turn him in time to take the wide oxer set at a precipitous angle. I closed my eyes a he took to the air, sure he would knock down the higher pole but when I opened them we were on the ground on the other side. To the sound of clapping we galloped to the gate where I pulled him up and slid off. It was Percy’s first show and he had outdone my expectations.
   “You’re a champ,” I whispered, leading him through the gate.
“Lavinia! That was spectacular!” My husband of two years, Major Ramsey Putnam, pulled me into his arms “I wouldn’t have thought Percy would have such aplomb. He acted like it was all old hat!”
I smiled, patting the bay on his sweaty neck. “He seemed like a veteran, didn’t he?” I had been training for this show for a few months but didn’t expect my green five-year-old to pull it off.

We celebrated my second place after the show by heading to the Bartell Hotel for drinks. When we walked in we were treated like royalty, shown to a special table big enough for four of our friends to join us.
“Ramsey, before the others arrive I have some news.”
Ramsey turned to look at me quizzically. “What news, Vinny?”
I took his hand as we sat down next to each other on a padded seat against the wall. To our right a large window revealed Arthur and Helen about to enter the hotel.
“I’m pregnant.”
Ramsey’s mouth fell open in shock. “Are you sure? How long have you known?”
I nodded. "A week or two,” I whispered.
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“I thought you might not want me to ride in the show. I know how protective you can be.”
He stared at me unblinking for a long moment and then breathed out as he looked down. “You’re probably right…I…”
“Hello, you two!”
I looked up to see Major Arthur Hartley and his wife Helen standing next to our table.
“Please join us,” Ramsey said getting up to pull out a chair for Helen.
Helen looked at me with bewildered eyes, obviously aware of the tension. I nodded and smiled. “Yes, please sit down. We haven’t ordered our cocktails yet.”
“How did your rides go?” Helen asked sitting across from me.
“She did wonderfully,” Ramsey answered. “Percy surprised us both. Sir Conrad on the other hand got a bit flustered by the crowd and ran out on a jump. He’s usually a trooper but today he was a disappointment.”
I looked at Ramsey and curbed my tongue. Sir Conrad had only responded to Ramsey, who didn’t give him the confidence he needed. I had watched his ride and seen the slipshod way Ramsey brought the big horse into the jump. No wonder he had run out. My face flushed as the unkind thoughts went through my mind, relieved to see the waiter approaching our table.


  1. Nikki, This is a really interesting blog and I love the way you intersperse the past with the present. Ref First or third person, it's a difficult call. With a bit of thought, I think you could incorporate both in the memoir. It depends on context and structure.

  2. Thanks for your feedback, Mike...I'm really glad you like it--(not ever sure who will or won't) I like the idea of incorporating both first and third-