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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - Fever Rings

I've been thinking a lot lately about the way reading is therapy. As writers, we talk about the catharsis of the written word; channeling our traumas to the page, dressing them in someone else's clothes, and in doing so, sifting through the wreckage so we can find the bright specks of lessons. And we're hoping in doing so, we can help someone else, a reader, find those bright specks too. That human need to be understood, and to understand. And so the therapy, I think, isn't tied to the act of writing or reading - but to the words themselves. The idea that injustices were committed to permanence, and can therefore be acknowledged.

I bring this up today because yesterday, the farrier came, and the horses had their hooves trimmed. (I started to type "feet." We horse people don't use proper terms most of the time) My gelding, Markus, has one of the most dramatic fever rings I've ever seen on his left hind. He had a terrible flare-up of lymphangitis last summer, and the hoof was never quite the same afterward. When horses experience any sort of change in nutrition or health, whether traumatic or not, a fever ring will appear at the top of the hoof, just beneath the coronary band, and will grow out as the hoof grows and is trimmed. The more traumatic the health change, the more significant the fever ring.

This is a bad one. Horses never lie; their bodies tell their stories, their traumas visible, and not just emotional. I've known horses with brutal scars, with lumpy once-broken noses, limps, phobias. They are slow to trust, because there's no social pressure on them to squelch their fears, and pretend to be normal. There is no fear of expression - only of those who could hurt them, as they've been hurt before.

But as humans, we must act as if everything's alright, and we seek our solace in words that we can read to ourselves privately. Our fever rings are in our minds, and only the idea that someone else out there somewhere knows of their existence helps to ease them, helps them to grow out, so they can eventually be trimmed away. That's why the words themselves are so important to me while writing. Until it comes time for my own catharsis, I want to fuel others'.

The next few weeks, my Workshop Wednesday posts are going to focus on emotional expression in writing. I recently read a NY Times bestseller lauded for its style of prose, and was appalled by the clumsiness of emotional expression within the text. It's an important topic for me, so that's what we'll talk about next week.

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