All Heart and Soul: Anna Blake’s Memoir

Lifesavers: Stable Relations, photographed by Anna Blake
Lifesavers: Stable Relations Nubè and Clara  Anna Blake ©2015

Her heart had been broken, in many places, when she threw herself soul-first into “a dilapidated would-be horse farm on the flat, windy, treeless prairie of Colorado” (later to become Infinity Farm). Wouldn’t anyone in her position?

Twelve years later, Anna Blake threw herself, mended-heart and whole-soul, into a memoir of her recovery and her stablemates’ and the lessons learned along the way, titled Stable Relation.

Reading Stable Relation, you get the feeling Anna Blake knows no other way than heart and soul. Life lessons work their way effortlessly into her prose.

anna.blakeWhen her memoir begins with her midlife crisis on the freeway, you’re along for the ride. And it’s a glorious ride, one that will ask you to fasten your seatbelt—this a book I put in the category of “can’t put it down.” Blake’s story, like her writing style, is just down-to-earth enough to make you feel like she’s telling it to you over a glass of wine. You like her. You feel what she feels. You want to know how this will turn out. For the best, you hope.

In her own words, Anna Blake responds to questions I asked her about the process of putting her life on the written line.

What was your process in writing and compiling your memoir like—did you keep notes, a diary, write bits over time or just write it out of whole cloth recently?

Anna Blake: I have a very strong visual memory and I love telling a story. A bit like Vonnegut’s concept of being unstuck in time, when I write, I go to that place mentally, look around, and describe what I see. It’s pretty literal. I am an active blogger and that’s been a wonderful tool for word flow and feedback. The positive blog comments fueled the book along. The depth and scale of the book improved my blog. They gave each other confidence and let my writing make friends before the book existed.

How did the process, the publishing of it and the reception you’ve had so far feel to you?

Anna Blake: The process of writing surprised me. Previously the idea of wrangling so many words felt daunting. I use Scrivener software and it was a godsend of organization–it deserves co-writer status. I worked with three different editors through the process and gained a valuable education. I was confident with every word when I finally submitted to publishers. My rejection notes read so positively, “Love your book, but can’t sell memoir.” Two publishers went farther with me, suggesting the self-publish route, so I screwed up my courage and jumped. The positive reception the book has received has been past my hopes.

“I had a secret weapon—I made my love be one inch bigger than my fear each day.”

—Anna Blake, Stable Relation  Tweet:

What was the hardest part of it all?

Anna Blake: I spent as much time editing as I did writing. I expected that would be really difficult because of what other people said about editing and rewriting, but was surprised at how fascinating that job was for me. I think in the end, understanding the publishing world right now took a long while to assimilate. Things are changing so fast and no one can guess how it will shake out. Deciding to proceed with a genuine self-publish, along with marketing, has been the biggest challenge. Or maybe it’s true that the hardest part is always the part we are doing at the moment.

“Write about what matters the most to you; write a love letter and call it a memoir.”

—Anna Blake   Tweet:

What was the most rewarding part of it all?

Anna Blake: It’s a pretty arrogant thing for a non-celebrity to write a memoir but I have always known that my story is far from unique. So many women share similar experiences to mine, and we are not easily understood. It was huge to finish the book and feel that I might have gotten it right. The reviews have been wonderful, but the over the top reward has been the personal messages I’ve received from readers who were touched by Stable Relation and moved to contact me to let me know that these hard-fought words have a personal impact. It isn’t my book anymore—it’s off having a life of its own.

A New Stable Relation photography by Anna Blake
Anna Blake and Windy with a New Stable Relation, Clara Anna Blake ©2015

Any advice to anyone else going through a mid-life crisis who wants to own horses and write a memoir?

Anna Blake: I highly recommend a midlife crisis that involves changing something big that will make you happier. Hopefully it will inconvenience some of the folks you have been inconvenienced by over the years. Say yes and do it.

As a Horse Advocate and professional trainer, if your plan involves an unfulfilled horse-crazy dream you’ve had since you were a kid, please start by volunteering at a local rescue, or finding a barn, a trainer, and take some lessons. Horses are complicated and dangerous and much more challenging than they were when we were kids; get some fresh education before you marry one. Then write about what matters the most to you; write a love letter and call it a memoir. 

Check out Anna Blake’s Stable Relation giveaway going on now at Goodreads. You can also find Stable Relation at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all online booksellers. And Anna Blake’s Blog is always worth a read. For more on the art of writing, look HERE.

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