Beth Hautala

Children's Author


Riding The Not-Quite-Runaway Horse

Yesterday as I was driving around town, running errands, minding my own business, I was blinded-sided by a runaway horse.

This has happened to me often enough that you'd think I'd be used to it. Prepared. And while I'm getting better, I was still a little breathless from the impact. With shaking fingers I pulled over to the side of the road, dug my notebook from my bag, and started scribbling.

Ideas hit me like this sometimes. Hard and fast, bolting through me with all the intensity of pounding hooves and tossing mane. And I love it. 

Robin McKinley said it like this:

"If you're a storyteller, your own life streams through you, onto the page, mixed up with the life the story itself brings; you cannot in any useful or genuine way, separate the two. The thing that tells me when one of the pictures in my head or phrases in my ear is a story, and not a mere afternoon's distraction, is its life, its strength, its vitality. If you were picking up stones in the dark, you would know when you picked up a puppy instead. It's warm; it wriggles; it's alive."

This fall I started a project that swept me up with its own life, its own vitality. In four days I wrote nineteen thousand words. And though the fury of my word count has abated now (thank goodness as I was exhausted at the end of those four days!), the story continues to drag at me—pulling at its bit like an impatient horse.

There is so much power and imagination wrapped up in the writing life. Big or small, as a writer, your work says something. —Sometimes it's familiar and comforting, sometimes it makes you weep. Sometimes you're shocked and have to fight the urge to hide it from your Mother. Regardless, it always drags you away. 

For me, my runaway horse is the power and draw of an untold story. For my sister, it's the high of a long distance run in a record time. For a friend of mine, it's watching a landscape design come into being and bloom.

This is the glory of creativity at work—the breathless, wind-in-your-face, hold-on-for-dear-life, I-hope-I-don't-die, glory. Enjoy the ride!