Finding the Knothole

23 Jul

I never thought I’d be a writer. I didn’t spend my childhood making up stories about my Barbies or my teenage years penning books about my perfect love. I was a reader, and although books were one of my favorite gifts, I was crazy about horses. Since I was born and raised in the middle of town to parents who had no use for the large animals, getting a horse of my own was a fantasy.

A little thing like that didn’t stop me. I hounded them year after year, for birthdays and Christmas.  Every time they’d ask what I wanted, I’d answer, “A horse.” They were all-mighty sick of hearing about my dream, but being my parents, they loved me anyway. They bought Breyer toy horses, cowgirl outfits and all the western books they could find in an effort to appease me.

When I was fifteen, I wore them down. My dad came home with an appaloosa, quarter horse cross, a two year old, and unbroken. The fact that I didn’t have a clue how to train him didn’t make any difference. I had a horse. Life was great.


Over the next thirty years, I learned from two of the best barrel horse trainers in the country, Larry and Kay Davis. I was fortunate enough to have some great horses that made me look good. I married a cowboy and had pretty much everything I’d ever dreamed about.

As I said, I’m a reader. I’m a romance reader, and I devour books like chocolate chip cookies. Well, I did until I started writing them. One day about six years ago, I read a book about a barrel racer. As the heroine was preparing to go to the National Finals Rodeo, she fell in love with the hero, a man who knew nothing about rodeo.

The author also knew nothing about rodeo and hadn’t bothered to do her research. The romance part of her book was well written, and I’m sure to someone who hadn’t rodeoed it was fine, but to me, it wasn’t authentic. What I couldn’t get past was the way she portrayed the horse training, barrel racing and rodeo scenes. They couldn’t have been more unrealistic if she’d tried, and really, all she needed to do was ask. Most barrel racers love to talk about their sport and their horses.

I thought how hard can it be to write a book? I’ll write one the way it should be done. And so I did. The first book was read by my mother and only my mother–she loved it by the way. With that book, I discovered how hard it is to write well.

There’s an old cowboy saying, “Training a horse is like looking at a solid wooden fence. Good trainers see a knothole, look through and discover all they’ve got left to learn. Most people don’t even find the knothole.”

The saying applies to writing, too. Six years later, after countless classes, with five books written and one published, I think maybe I’ve found the knothole. Now to learn what’s on the other side.


Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Idaho


12 responses to “Finding the Knothole

  1. Janis McCurry

    July 23, 2013 at 7:29 AM

    I like the knothole idea. Let’s just say…I have found the knothole and so far, it’s winning. 🙂

  2. Judith Keim

    July 23, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    Stephanie, I love this blog. It’s so true! I’ve written for years and never feel as if I know it all or do it perfectly. It’s frustrating to look at something you think you’ve polished to discover that you left out a comma or can express it a little better. But it’s such a good feeling when you get something that you like. But then, again, the process of writing is rewriting. LOL

    • stephanieberget

      July 23, 2013 at 2:54 PM

      You’re right, Judith. When we finally get it right, it’s so much fun.

  3. Jennifer

    July 23, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    There is definitely always more to learn when it comes to writing. I guess that’s what keeps it interesting but also what makes it frustrating at the same time. I’ve certainly learned a lot from you!

    • stephanieberget

      July 23, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      Hi, Jenn. Thanks for the comment. And I’ve learned so much from you.

  4. Peggy Staggs

    July 24, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    I keep pressing my eye against that knothole. I can see the possibilities, I just can’t squeeze through that little hole…yet.

  5. Lynn Mapp

    July 24, 2013 at 10:09 PM

    Steph, the problem with knotholes is the more seem to pop up. The conflict isn’t strong enough. That’s one of my favorites. I am working to improve this. But…there is still more to learn.

    • Stephanie Berget

      July 25, 2013 at 10:23 AM

      I know what you mean. I struggle with conflict, too. It seems I have more than enough conflict in real life and not enough when I write.

  6. maryvine

    July 25, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    What a cool way to get into writing. I, too, didn’t think of writing early on. I started at 36. Thanks.

  7. Stephanie Berget

    July 25, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Thanks, Mary. It’s fun to find something as wonderful as writing later on.


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