Reliving Past Lessons
By Betsy Kelleher
My last column mentioned some changes in my life. The publisher of my first book had closed down, and I decided to publish a revised second edition of Sometimes a Woman Needs a Horse with Xulon Press, the same publisher that did my second book, MARES! (ya gotta love em). I thought it would be a simple process, to just give them the file and have the book available again.
Xulon did a diagnostic review and recommended a certain change in punctuation. Not a big deal, but I had only a PDF file which could not be edited. They offered to retype the book and make the recommended changes, for only $1800. Excuse me, but I could do it myself for a lot less. So I did. I actually retyped the entire manuscript, making the changes as I went along. The one change specifically recommended…was to remove the ellipses…those three dots that I love to use for a sort of pause in thought…because they said it might be confusing to the reader. OK, so I retyped the whole book to remove three little dots here and there. Well, actually, I found a LOT of those dots throughout the book, which the first publisher had not opposed. I replaced most of them, since that was the purpose of the retyping, except for one place where I left them in because I felt it didn’t work any other way.
There is more to the story, of course. I had decided to republish after reading two new reviews online that were quite favorable, which made me think there was still a market out there for the book. But after I paid to republish the new edition, I found another new review which was extremely critical! If I’d read that review earlier, I probably would not have republished the book. I’ve read bad reviews before and survived, but this one hit me where it hurt the most. And why share this part of the story? Because now more than ever, I believe God guides us step by step. After I’d taken the first step, signing up to republish, only then did He lead me into the next step. As long as I was retyping the whole book, I might as well look at it again and see what I could do to make improvements! I couldn’t change the story itself—it was what it was. But perhaps I could edit parts of it to help God’s message be more effective.
Two weeks later, as I finished retyping the whole manuscript, something happened. Yes, my fingers were tired, I was having mild headaches and back aches, and my blood pressure went up for awhile, after the stress of intense concentration. But as I gave a big sigh of relief after sending the completed file to the publisher, I sensed that God had a deeper purpose in all of this. I remember a sentence from the book about the bond that grew as Fanny and I shared countless miles of trail. I suddenly realized that as I retyped all those pages and relived the story, God reminded me in a very personal way of how He had worked in my life through my love of horses. I felt He was pulling me even closer to Himself.
Looking back helped me see my past experiences as lessons that still apply to my life today. He is still reminding me to trust Him, to let Him provide my needs in His timing and to accept His will even when I don’t understand it. I feel a wonderful new joy in my heart. I am thankful for God’s involvement in my love of horses—how He worked with me as I trained Fanny—and how He is still involved in my life today.
Why would I put forth the effort and expense of republishing a book that’s been on the market for ten years? Because I believe in the message of this book. I am praying that some new reader will find this book to contain a life-changing message from the same God who gave it to me. The revised second edition is the same story as before, with a different subtitle and a new cover and a few minor changes here and there. I must admit the writer in me is never completely satisfied. But time is limited here on earth. We do what we can when we can and we must take our opportunities seriously. We can look back later and see things we would have liked to change, but that time in life has past. Now, we move on. We live today, not yesterday. We learn from our experiences, and we try to change what we are doing now, when we are able.
Today, I have a Tennessee Walker mare registered as Walker’s Velvet Queen—my Lady. She is not like Fanny, except also a bit headstrong. I believe God gives us the horse we need at the time He gives it. We learn something different from each one. God gave me many valuable experiences as I learned to train Fanny, and he has given different experiences with Lady. And with Traveller, with Dude, with Rocky and others.
I must admit that I got very discouraged over this past winter. And now God has reminded me that even while I was discouraged, He was working things out. I need to be patient and trust Him. Perhaps by the time this column is published, I will be back on Lady again, riding on a regular basis. Reliving Sometimes a Woman Needs a Horse actually inspired me, not only to get back in the saddle, but how to work on my relationship with the Lord and Master of my life. The book is now available again in both eBook and soft cover editions through the usual retail markets.
(Originally published in the June 2014 issue of the Illinois Horse Network)