Anita Daher and Wager (provided by author)
To strengthen my writing, I've taken on many adventures. Some have been terrific fun, others, not so much. In the name of research, I've swallowed nerves, sat in the back of a heavily laden floatplane, and flew into the Nahanni River Valley region of the Northwest Territories in order to drink in flat-topped mountains, canyons and glacial lakes. Fun. I've also observed the "harvesting" of chickens, and had my hand inside the hot intestines of a bird not yet ten minutes departed. I haven't eaten chicken since. Without question, my happiest and most gratifying adventure has been in taking on my teen daughter's horse after she developed other interests.
I'd begun writing a story set on a ranch in northern BC, and felt working with a horse day-to-day, rather than simply observing and making notes, might add an important layer of believability to my work. And so I graduated from chauffer and groomer to owner and rider. Wager, a six-year-old black and white Paint, is now my constant companion. He is my brain break, and my get-up-and stretch. He is also guide to another sort of understanding, unexpected.
It takes time to ride well. You cannot simply jump in the saddle and go. Well, actually, you can, but if you put in the hours, ride every day until posture and balance improves, and you begin to feel subtle shifts and responses to the gentlest of pressures, then you will have a more rewarding experience.
Great writing happens in just the same way. We must put in the time. Write every day until we become aware of how the subtlest of shifts--word choice, sentence structure--changes the tone of our work. We must do this until the changes happen with will and skill: choice over chance.
This is what I work and play at. Giddy-up.
Anita Daher was born in PEI and has spent much of her life moving, living all over Canada. She has always written for kids, and moves easily between young teens and older teens who face much more difficult issues. Among her titles: Racing for Diamonds, Two Foot Punch (Orca), and Spider's Song (Penguin) which was a finalist for the McNally Robinson Best Book for Kids and the Arthur Ellis Award, and was a Chapters/Indigo Junior Advisory Council Pick. Daher won the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Writer in 2007. She seems to have settled enough to call Winnipeg home.
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