Why I Started Writing–or Everything is Hard if You Want to Be Good At It!

I never thought I’d be a writer. I didn’t spend my childhood making up stories about my Barbies or my teenage years penning books about my perfect love. I was a reader. Reading was my second favorite love. The first was horses. I was crazy about horses, but since I was born and raised in the middle of town to parents who had no use for the large animals, getting a horse of my own was a fantasy.
A little thing like that didn’t stop me. I hounded them year after year, for birthdays and Christmas.  Every time they’d ask what I wanted, I’d answer, “A horse.” They were all-mighty sick of hearing about my dream, but being my parents, they loved me anyway. They bought Breyer toy horses, cowgirl outfits and all the western books they could find in an effort to appease me.
When I was fifteen, I wore them down. My dad came home with an appaloosa, quarter horse cross, a two year old, and unbroken. The fact that I didn’t have a clue how to train him didn’t make any difference. I had a horse. Life was great.
Over the next thirty years, I learned from two of the best barrel horse trainers in the country, Larry and Kay Davis. I was fortunate enough to have some great horses that made me look good. I married a cowboy and had pretty much everything I’d ever dreamed about.
As I said, I’m a reader. I’m a romance reader, and I devour books like chocolate chip cookies. Well, I did until I started writing them. One day about six years ago, I read a book about a barrel racer. As the heroine was preparing to go to the National Finals Rodeo, she fell in love with the hero, a man who knew nothing about rodeo.
The author also knew nothing about rodeo and hadn’t bothered to do her research. The romance part of her book was well written, and I’m sure to someone who hadn’t rodeoed it was fine, but to me, it wasn’t authentic. What I couldn’t get past was the way she portrayed the horse training, barrel racing and rodeo scenes. They couldn’t have been more unrealistic if she’d tried, and really, all she needed to do was ask. Most barrel racers love to talk about their sport and their horses.
I thought how hard can it be to write a book? I’ll write one the way it should be done. And so I did. That first book was read by my mother and only my mother–she loved it by the way. With that book, I discovered how hard it is to write well.
There’s an old cowboy saying, “Training a horse is like looking at a solid wooden fence. Good trainers see a knothole, look through and discover all they’ve got left to learn. Most people don’t even find the knothole.” 
The saying applies to writing, too. Six years later, after countless classes, with five books written and one published, I think maybe I’ve found the knothole. Now to learn what’s on the other side.


  1. Finding knotholes is definitely a talent all its own. I've met people who have said things like "Oh, I've published a book! My writing is fantastic, I don't need to change ANYTHING from now on!"

    And I just roll my eyes. I haven't published a book at all yet, am finally seeing that goal on my horizon, but know that in ten years I will look back at that first book and cringe because I will have learned so much more since then.

  2. That is so true. I published my first in April and can't believe how much I've learned since then. Finding the knothole is the key.
    Thanks, Rebecca for visiting.

  3. First of all congrats on getting novel published. That's no easy feat!

    It's so true that horse people want authenticity when they're reading a story that includes horses. We're so quirky that way! Lack of authenticity is the kiss of death for us. So I'm glad to see a real horse person that's writing!

    I've never heard the knot hole analogy but it does make absolute sense about horses and writing both. They're both something you do by sight and feel and you either have both of those things or you don't. You can learn it to a certain extent, but you've got to have a sense for it too.

    I've sent out queries on children's, non-fiction, and a half finished fiction I'm still working on. No bites yet but I'll just keep tweaking and tuning. You give me some hope! 🙂

  4. Keep trying.If you don't you'll never get anywhere. A friend who trained Reiners told us about the knothole analogy, and it just seems to fit.

  5. Stephanie, congrats on your perseverance! This business is not for the weak, lol! And once you're published it only gets harder…and learning to be a better writer never stops, because you're writing voice is always revolving but that makes this job all the more exciting 🙂

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