Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Reaching Completion: Out With the Old Projects, In With the New

I'm finally feeling like I'm making progress on my winter projects.

1. I completed sewing the shades, curtains, and draperies and am now just trying to cement the rod brackets in place to hold all that weight. Once that is done, I will photograph the room with the liners drawn closed, with just the sheer fabric drawn closed, and with the windows uncovered to do a little study on my lighting options for the photography studio.

2. I reached the end of the novel I've been writing. That doesn't mean it is finished. It just means I know how it ends. Now I need to go back and read it to look for inconsistencies. The problem with taking a year or more to write a novel is that by the time you reach the end, you can't remember what you wrote in the beginning, and it's important to tie the beginning into the end. So, I'm in the phase of tying up loose ends at the moment, making sure that every character plays an important role and there is no extraneous material.

I've been so engrossed in these projects that I start them when my son leaves for school, and it seems only a few minutes later that he's walking in the door coming home from school. I'm astounded that I can spend seven to eight hours straight writing and sewing. It just goes to show you that I can pull off being a writer as long as I have the time. Now I've just got to start making money with what I wrote.

Apparently, due to my immersion in my projects, I've been oblivious to what is going on outside of my house. My husband said there were horse hoof prints in front of our house. I went out to take a look and found tracks leading up our driveway and across our lawn, right in front of our bay windows. They looked to be from a horse with shoes, and the way the toes were dug in, I imagined there was a rider aboard pulling back on the reins to try to get the horse off my property, but it's hard to fight the lure of Kentucky Blue Grass. I'm home pretty much all the time, so I can't believe I didn't see or hear anything.

3. I've created monsters by taking the dogs for walk/jogs at the park on nice days. Now every day they expect it and hassle me for it. It's hard to explain to dogs that it's too cold or wet or muddy some days.

4. On the blog front, I removed my old blog list from my sidebar that I painstakingly put together years ago. The reason is because so many of the blogs were out of date with no new posts and so many new, active, horse blogs were not included. I decided to try the new Blog List widget that imports blogs from my RSS Feed and those that I follow, only listing that last 25 to publish posts. That way if people in my feed or following list stop blogging, I don't have to do the extra work of researching which blogs are active and which are not, and then delete the links to those that either have been deleted or those that just stopped being maintained.

So, how do I choose who to include in my feed and following list? Well, I'd like to say that I go out and search for horse blogs on a regular basis, but I don't. I'd like to say that I find other horse bloggers through comments they leave on the sites that I'm already reading, but it's rare for me to have a long enough time increment when I'm not interrupted to actually take the path of reading a blog post, reading the comments, clicking through a comment, reading the next blog, and then either following it or adding it to my feed. More often than not, I notice a new name in the comments coming through my blog, and after I see it a few times, I check out his or her blog, then add it to my list if the blog seems relevant.

I've been thinking about blogging a lot lately, and it can be a very time-consuming process. At my busier moments, all I have time to read are the titles of the posts, so if I see a title that sounds interesting, I leave it in my feed unread, so that it will pop up again later. Some bloggers consistently deliver great material, so I save their posts to read while I'm sitting down for a cup of coffee or tea, or a meal. To me, great material includes posts that contain a valuable story that sticks to one topic. This post I'm writing now is an example of poor writing. I'm all over the map discussing different subjects, because I'm too rushed to give each topic its own post.

The next most important part of a post besides the title, is the opening sentence. It should grab you, and at the same time sum up what you are getting yourself into by reading the post. Which one of these first lines is more likely to draw you in?

Nothing much is happening. (Hmmmm. Then do I want to take the time to read about nothing much?)

It's been really busy. (Oh oh. Sounds like this post will be jumping around to a bunch of different topics. My mind might go on overload. I'm pretty busy myself.)

Some days grace us with lessons we can learn from our horses if we listen. (Ooooh. I want to know what the blogger learned.)

Of course, I am guilty of writing many poor posts. Sometimes I ramble, knowing most people won't take the time to read it, and am surprised by those who do. I just tell myself not to make a habit out of it. Repetitive posts can feel like a time-waster. If I start feeling deja vu in the first few sentences of a post, I'll skip it. Bloggers are always trying to find a balance between including new readers with just enough background to get some context without losing old readers with too much repetition. Jumping to other topics ;)...

5. The $6 hay I bought turned out to be just that: $6 hay. It looked good from the outside, but once I broke the bales open I realized that it's all just roughage. It's very dry and from last year's first cutting (try not to think of a fart right now), so it's loaded with thick stalks and weeds. The horses don't like it, but it's not moldy, so I'm mixing it in with what I've got left of my $15 hay. When I run out (probably at the end of the month), I'll just pick up whatever my trailer and truck can carry of the $15 hay, which truly is the best quality in the valley. Hopefully, I can then order a block once the 2011 cuttings are available.

6. On the horse front, my next big project is clicker training. Many bloggers use this technique and have encouraged me to try it over the years, but it has always been on the back burner. I saw a couple of posts that sold me on the method, so I ordered some clickers. Check out these interesting blog posts:

Judi Daly's Trail Training for the Horse and Rider: Cole's New Trick - I started reading Judi's blog and getting her newsletter after reading her book "Trail Training for Horse and Rider." I wrote a review of her book here.

Chrome's Training Journal - achieve1dream has been testing out clicker training on her yearling and logging her experiences in this blog. Watching this video, I can confidently say that my horses weren't that well behaved and well trained when they were yearlings.


Tammy said...

I kind of did the same thing with my blog roll. I like to know when they've been updated & its easiest to see from my own blog because I am firewalled out of a lot of the google stuff at work.

Congrats on finishing your book. I think I have read many that didn't tie in the beginning to the end and left me as a reader saying "huh?" LOL! Good job!

Katie L. said...

I like the blog roll widget. Going to look into it for mine.

Definitely keep us updated on the clicker-training experience. I like the concept, hate the "clicker" concept. One day I'll have the time to study it more and try it but would love to hear your experience!

fernvalley01 said...

Wow! Congrats on finishing the book and the curtains.I am so impressed!As for rambling , eh sometimes ,when you have a lot to say...

KD said...

Hey Nuz...can you share what your book is about? I didn't realize you were writing anovel. How cool!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

KD - Well, it's a fictitious suspense novel that includes weird neighbors who cross the line, and there are horses in the story. Any resemblance the characters may have to anyone in real life is pure coincidence.

Once Upon an Equine said...

You've been very busy. I'm impressed that you are working on a novel.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I don't worry what will make my readers interested anymore. I blog for me. I also, not only deleted any blogs that I don't read on a regular basis or have just lost interest in, but also removed any and all followers who I'm not familiar with.
I don't search out any new blogs, and unfortunately I rarely ever go visit any new blogs that leave comments for me. I just don't have time or the interest and would rather stay true to those that have stuck with me over the past few years.

I always enjoy reading your blog posts, but I do agree that you tend to write "all over the place". I don't mind, but I do tend to feel guilty sometimes if I've forgotten to address something you wrote about in your post. I know how much work and thought can go behind creating a post, that I try to comment on everything that I can.

That's too bad about the hay. If it were me, I'd take it back and complain. We've done that before when we've had a few bales of moldy hay, and we've gotten our money back. Farmers won't improve unless we complain. They'll also learn that we won't come back and buy from them again unless they back up their product. We'll also spread the word to others that their product is no good.

Ironically, we recently bought a couple bales of hay that had lots of tough stalks and some weeds, and when we laid it out for Apache, she seemed to think we had given her a gourmet bale. She sought out the stalks and weeds like they were the best thing ever. lol!

Good for you getting all those projects completed. This is the best time of year to get them done because of the bad weather. I've been doing a lot of reading, knitting, organizing, and letterboxing planning and carving.

I hope you'll all let us know how the clicker training goes. I've done some clicker training with Apache, just using my tongue as a clicker. I tend to lose things or forget things and the barn is a long hike from the house, so I knew I'd better try an alternative. lol!


photogchic said...

I am sewing a bunch of curtains too! Congrats on nearing the end with your book...that is huge! I am gonna look into that blog widget...I'll bug you if I can't find it.

Dreaming said...

I'm so sorry the hay isn't good. I was so excited when you found it. Good idea to mix them.
You are so right about the time involved in a blog, and the time spent following a blog - reading and commenting...becoming blog friends. It can consume a person in no time.
How bizarre about the horse tracks.
Congrats on finishing your sewing projects AND the novel. Wow! I can't wait to see them. My sewing will begin in a few months. The thought of that isn't all that great, but the outcome should be fabulous - just as I anticipate you have experienced.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Well you certainly haven't been slacking-LOL. That's a lot to get accomplished.

Laughing at your novel description. It sounds interesting though. Do you have a publisher in mind or will you have to shop it around?

My dad sat down and wrote 7 or 8 novels before he passed away. I've read some of them and always thought it would be worthwhile to read all of them, do a bit of editing and see if I couldn't get them published. It's unfortunately one of those things that I have never had the fortitude to do.

I guess I have never put that much thought into blogging-LOL. Since I started out as a way to keep in touch with real life friends, I just always kind of think of it as 'conversation'. I was (an am still) flattered that people I have never met actually take time out of their day to read and sometimes comment on what I have to say. I know that I have met some wonderful people, been lucky enough to meet some of them IRL and hope that I get to meet more.

Rising Rainbow said...

Glad you've found the ending for your book. Funny how they can brew and churn and you don't know where you're going but still get there.

I can't imagine you missed a horse and rider in your yard but still can't get over your weird neighborhood. Those people have boundary issues......BIG TIME!

Sorry the $6 hay didn't work out. I've learned too over the years that sometimes you get exactly what you pay for and it's not unusual for the outside to look good and the inside not.

I need to figure out widgets and even a makeover but can't seem to get myself started on the project. LOL

achieve1dream said...

Aww you're so sweet to mention Chrome's training. I'm glad we helped to encourage you to try clicker training. I really think you will love it. If you have any questions give me a shout. It can be a bit confusing at times.

Oh I didn't know you'd read Judi's book. I'm going to read your review as soon as I finish this comment. I'm planning to get her book as soon as I can afford it and I can't wait to see what you thought of it.

I'm probably pretty guilty of writing posts that jump all over the place lol! I enjoyed reading your good post criteria. I'll probably start paying more attention to what I'm writing. :D

Yay on your novel!!!! That's awesome. Congrats! I know the hard work is just beginning (I dislike revision), but it's so satisfying finally knowing how it all ends. I love writing too.

I can't wait to see the pictures of the new curtains. :)

I might have to try that blog roll. I wasn't for sure how it worked, so thanks for explaining it!

That's too bad about the hay. The old hay I found in the barn on the lease land is like that. They prefer the better hay, but when it's really cold they appreciate the roughage. I figure they are getting all of their nutrition from the Enrich 32, so if the hay isn't perfect then it's not too big of a deal. So long as it provides long stem roughage to keep their guts moving it's serving it's purpose. I'll get better hay as soon as it's available and I can afford it. :)

Wow sorry for the novel of a comment hehe.

Maery Rose said...

You may be all over the place, but you covered many things I'm interested in so I hung in there. I'm working on a book too. But like you said, hard to do when you don't have time. I've got 10 years worth of writing I'm going through now trying to remember what all I have. Sheesh! I've started using the clicker training with my dog and I do like it. I didn't understand the timing before and got frustrated with it, but now that I "get it", it does work pretty well, at least with a dog. And blogging is very time consuming. With the other writing and the photography work I want to do, I've had to scale back on the writing and the reading and just hope people still hang in there with me.

Linda said...

That was a long post, but I made it through because it was a topic that interested me and one I've thought about, too. I'm like you, I know what I like in a "good" post, but I often write bad ones anyway. But you made a good point--why should anyone take the time to read if you're just rambling on about your "busy" day or your "boring" day. I'm going to try something new...which is hard for me...but I'm going to try.

That's very disappointing about the hay being dry and stalky. I was really hoping that'd work out for you. :-/

Janie said...

The blog roll widget is a wonderful tool. It really helps.

That sucks about the $6 hay, but live and learn. I was hoping that it would work out well for you.

Blogging can be difficult. It's hard to always find the time.