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The dark horse in the winner’s circle

Are you and your work living the life of the dark horse?

You’re straining your neck at the starting gate, you hear the gun, you bolt out of the gate and with all you have in you, you run the race like it is your last. Decked in bright colors, you’ve trained with the best; you’ve paid your entrance and stable fees, but it seems like you fall short of the golden ones, the ones running on the inside track whom everyone is shouting for.

As the dark horse, you stay in obscurity. The world is not looking for you and gamblers are not placing betting odds on you. You’re out there with the others but until something extra ordinary happens, you are just running the race. My friend tells me that technically a dark horse isn’t considered a dark horse until it becomes prominent. It isn’t lacking, it just hasn’t been discovered.

“The King’s Choice” is such a contender. It had a brief moment of prominence but now sits on my bookshelf dormant. I opted to give a small devotion on Friday night at a women’s campout. The devotion would be nothing big, just a thought or two of a small section from this book that I wrote in 1992. So I blew the dust off the cover, threw it in my backpack and added enough copies for everyone.

Sitting around the campfire in the dark with only light from the embers, I began by asking, “Has anyone read the most beautiful but the most misunderstood book in the Bible, ‘The Song of Solomon?’” One lady immediately said, “Pleeease, I live alone, I don’t need that!” Yes, by the natural man it is considered the X-rated book of the Bible and is very controversial. It is not usually sought after because of man’s opinions; fear, guilt and lack of understanding. It is seemingly a dark horse. It is as if the wonderful imagery and beauty has been hidden from gawking eyes.

I have taught from ‘Song of Solomon’ many times over the years, but I always felt in my excitement that I was whipping things up and with glazed eyes my students went to another world and I would try to rein them back. There are over 1,005 songs that Solomon penned, this one is considered the ‘Song of Songs.’ The chosen one!

“The King’s Choice” is a study book on the “Song of Solomon” and is full of passion, purpose and expectancy. I spent a year in research and study and I loved every word that I wrote and believed in every word.

It didn’t end up the way I thought it would, it had its spurts and starts. I taught 17, 30-minute television programs from it, master videotapes sit on my shelf to bear witness. I rented the Country Club of Albuquerque for the evening and unveiled the seventeen paintings I painted. A playbill was placed in everyone’s hand, food covered the tables, music played in the background, actors and dancers performed, and a narrator told the beautiful love story.

So what happened to the dark horse after that night of exquisite artistry?

The paintings went to pasture, the golden ornate frames were stripped off and given to other fanciful fillies that could wear their size.

Well, back to Friday night. Something out of the ordinary happened. There was electricity that jumped off the pages. The subject continued Saturday morning, Saturday night, and Sunday morning until the whole book had been ravished. The words lit up the hearts of the women. I was dumbfounded. They were grateful, I was in awe. They were hungry to hear and I was overjoyed to give.

But the story goes on, the weekend was so rewarding that I fell back into the old familiar mode of operation. Since I had gleaned more material and knowledge than when I wrote the book, I immediately started dreaming how to revise the book and include all the wonderful information that I had acquired.

My neck was straining, I was just waiting for the gun to sound and I would be off. I was feeding the horse again, “I know! I will publish another one, bigger and better and this time it will make a sweeping triumph across the finish line.”

But whoa! Stop! Pull in the reins! Let this horse have its own head. Don’t beat it to death. It just ran a race and is a winner. Even a fine race horse needs to walk around and cool down. There might be another race down the way and when the time comes, when the current in the work is drawing life from whoever is hungry to hear, it will happen.

Final brushstroke: Writers: After the book has been written, it’s not finished, its story and life has just begun. Don’t shoot the horse, even if there seems to be no market or use for it at the moment, it might surprise you. Be open and ready and give it its own reins. It might be in the back but will break through the pack. I’ll meet you in the winner’s circle. I’m placing my bets on you.

Reader’s comments

Kathy Gibson cleverly labeled the readers of this column the “Candy Club,” so I e-mailed her and ask her what the Candy Club meant to her.

Good early morning, Betty

The Candy Club for me is being part of a bigger expression of art and writing that this column shares with its readers. It’s a vicarious one, to be sure, since I do no art at the moment.

So now what is our candy: The stuff of our lives, what we can possess and what is imagined that gives us inspiration to move forward with whatever project we are working on, right now.

Then come the lies. We feed ourselves lies; you alluded to that. Others feed us lies, like a bad piece of chocolate (is there such a thing?) or candy too stiff to chew. The demand or technique or school or genre change outside of us, yet we push forward to express, no matter what the critics say. The critical response from our community, or the lack of sales might discourage us, but no matter once we have finished that stage, that experimentation, that theme, we can put our efforts away to begin anew, a new theme, a never been tried stroke.

The candy is our motivation. The candy is what we share with each other, to encourage and sustain the process of discovery and creation. Your column is that for me. You’ve given me a lot of food for thought, CANDY, and it is moving me forward inch by inch toward writing again. I need the candy you write? There is nothing in our local paper like your thoughts.

Kathy Gibson

Michigan

Write your comments to bettyslade@centurytel.net.

Artist’s quote

“Whatever you want in life, other people are going to want it too. Believe in yourself enough to accept the idea that you have an equal right to it.” — Diane Sawyer, TV personality.