It had been a long time. Way too long. But, for the first time in three years, I spent a couple of days working on the ranch. Now, I’ve mentioned in the past that my first draft of my first book was written/plotted as I plodded along behind a dusty trail of cows. Being literally and figuratively ‘back in the saddle’ I realize the ranch is even more of an inspiration than I originally thought. Working there I experience so many things that make my writing better. Like:
- A plethora of near death experiences. I don’t know a single rancher that doesn’t have an ‘I almost died when…” story or, as I heard it described the other day, a “Here I come, Jesus!” experience. This possibility of death is way too common place. In fact, just the other day I had a one of these experiences. Now, I’m no statistics expert….BUT I hadn’t worked on the ranch in three years and on day two I saw a smidgeon of life flash before my eyes. So the chance of danger is high. The adrenaline is key in these moments and also the fear. Usually there’s an unhealthy amount of heart-pounding fear involved. At the time, the heart workout isn’t much appreciated, but later these experiences become very useful to have to look back on as I’m writing and want to make an intense scene realistic.
- Along with these fantastic near death experiences is an inbred ability to laugh off the heaviness of them. I’ll use the experience I mentioned above since I know you’re all curious about it now. At a branding a great big bull-calf was roped by the head. Before he could be roped by his hind legs, he swung around toward the branding fire and our cooking lunch. (Two very important things). So I jumped up and yelled to scare him away from the fire, back toward the other horses and ropers where he’d be ‘properly contained’. Well, he had a different idea and rushed at me. I value my life, so I ran. I would have been screaming like a little girl, but I was too busy being terrified. He had my number for a while and snorted all up my backside, but I survived unscathed. So, on the ranch, instead of being mad or succumbing to a fit of vapors, this becomes the joke of the day. For example we decide it’s clear I’m expendable, but lunch isn’t. Then we laugh because I didn’t think fast enough to jump in the truck bed, but instead ran around it. The beauty of it all is I think I probably made more fun of myself than anyone else did. Yes, the ranch taught me to laugh at myself and lighten heavy things. Book two has some really heavy stuff happening right at the beginning and I’ve been using all my ‘lightening’ talents to keep it a fun and enjoyable read.
- Ranch work has also taught me to be smart with my strength. Timing is everything. If you don’t want to kill yourself off you learn to work smart instead of just working hard. My books have a lot of dialogue because I found it’s a strength in my writing. And I’ve learned patience. You have to wait for those moments when you’re rewarded for punishing hard work, when you finally see a realization of all your goals and when you impress even yourself with your strength. I’m still waiting on some of these things to happen with my writing, but I have faith they’ll come.
I guess it’s pretty obvious I’m a bit of a ‘fan girl’ of ranch work. I know the things I listed here are just a speck of all it has given me. I really have been blessed to be able to ‘work the land’ and experience the inspiration that comes there. I highly, highly recommend it. If facing death, laughing at life, and working out strengths doesn’t sound like fun, just trust me it’s worth it. Crazy, but worth it!
Here are some pics I’ve taken of ranchlife. Yes, it’s as awesome as it looks…