Please Don’t Ask Me to Write About …
I haven’t been raining negativity, bitterness and bile down on my gentle readers lately. And apparently, that has to stop.
It has been suggested to me by a devotee of WFTRSOTS (okay, ‘devotee’ might be phrasing it rather strongly, but there is forensic evidence that she pops by on occasion) that I should share with you some of the topics I’d just as soon never, ever, ever write about ever, ever again.
Is that the sort of thing you’d like to read? No? It’s just her?
Never mind, I’m going to forge ahead anyway. Woe betide me should I disappoint her. You can be the next one to suggest a topic. (No, really. Go ahead. Let’s see if I can riff on anything a la the late, great George Carlin. My guess is no.)
By the way, I should probably mention that I have made some headway recently in my ongoing crusade to demonstrate that I can, in fact, write entire paragraphs of published text without mentioning hooved quadrupeds of any kind. This seems necessary because there are a head-spinning number of editors out there who don’t seem to be able to extrapolate from one of my articles about a veterinary issue, that I can write about medical issues, and who can’t read a piece about a riding vacation and take the great leap to believing I could craft a piece about a boating or skiing vacation.
Between my snowmobiling jaunt in Quebec, back in January, and some agricultural pieces ranging from celebrating the Goat Farmer of the Year to rather more sober discussions of how fully farmers are adopting mobile technology, I have now collected …. ohhhhh, about a dozen clips, I guess …. which avoid horses like the plague. (Okay, yes, the goats are quadrupeds and have cloven hooves, but the article really discusses the award-winning goat farmer rather than his charges. Mostly.)
I consider this a minor triumph, but then, I have to take my triumphs where I find ’em these days.
I was also charged with writing my very first infographic a few months ago. It wasn’t easy, let me assure you. But the artist quite skilfully made a silk purse out of a (proverbial) sow’s ear …
I would happily write about goats some more. Or pigs. Or soybeans. I’m learning quite a lot about all three.
But please don’t ask me to write another infographic. It made my head hurt.
Of course, it’s still true that the vast majority of my portfolio — and the archive currently stands at somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2000 published articles — does feature, or at least discuss, equines of one sort or another. You’d be surprised how much variety there is within that niche: personality profiles, hard science, event reports and recaps, PR for future events, how-to’s, training tips, health and veterinary advances, a few fluff pieces, even some controversy on occasion. Maybe I’m not a flak-jacket journalist, but that doesn’t it’s all meaningless trivia (she said self-righteously).
There are few truly new topics under the sun, however. And there are some old chestnuts that editors seem to trot out every year without fail … depending on we starving freelancers to invent a new spin, lest we all simultaneously slip into vegetative states from the sheer, desperate redundancy of it all.
Some of these subjects, I don’t mind, honestly. I don’t object to writing about internal parasites, for example. There’s usually a bit of new science to discuss every few years, which keeps it fresh and interesting for me … and also, although I am easily grossed out by, say, eye diseases (I cannot look at the photos — ick), I apparently have a high tolerance for pondering the life cycles of slimy blood-sucking phylla who inhabit eyeballs and intestinal folds.
But please shoot me, I beg of you, if I ever have to write about the following again:
1. Fencing for horses. Coma-inducing? Oh, gawd, yes. New stuff to discuss? Pretty much never. The most exciting thing to come down the pike in recent decades has been an electric fencing product which has two-way current or something and doesn’t need to be grounded, which I guess is great because I don’t really understand the whole grounding thing and thus find it difficult to describe in articles. But ‘great’, in this case, is very much a relative term. If I have to put together one more bloody chart comparing oak board fencing to pipe corrals to high-tensile wire to synthetics, I may in fact garrote myself on the next electric fence I see, regardless of its grounding or lack thereof.
2. Thorny regulatory issues. Especially when they’re American. I write for a lot of American magazines, some of which, in their peculiarly Ameri-centric way, insist on ONLY American sources being quoted. This, to me, is short-sighted as hell … seriously, if you had a chance to hear from a showjumping expert like Beat Mandli (Switzerland) or a dressage guru like Edward Gal (the Netherlands), wouldn’t that be every bit as interesting to a reader from the United States, as someone home-grown? I don’t see how the US can continue to teach its citizens that nothing of any note happens beyond its borders, but I digress. What really makes me crazy is trying to figure out which government agency I have to phone, when I am commissioned to write an article about some issue which concerns or involves American government agencies (ie. drug regulations, feed and supplement labels, or the slaughter industry). The whole regulatory situation in the US, with so many things under state jurisdiction rather than national — and thus wildly different from state to state — makes me absolutely postal.
I’m nearly as unenthused about doing pieces about Canadian regulatory issues, but at least I can usually identify a ministry or organization as a likely starting place. Fuggeddaboutit in the US of A.
3. Fly Control. Again, this is a topic that makes the rounds at the beginning of every summer, and it is just mind-numbingly stupifying to write about. And to read about too. I can tell you all about the relative toxicities of various pyrethroid compounds, and discuss the efficacy of supposedly natural alternatives like apple cider vinegar and (I kid you not) Avon Skin-So-Soft, but really, I’d rather not.
4. Trailering. By this I mean, the methods and mechanics of moving horses from one place to another over asphalt. I have discussed health issues. Regulatory (ugh) issues. How to inspect your trailer for safety. How to select the right towing vehicle. Just run me over with a diesel dually next time instead of making me rehash it all again.
Et vous, gentle reader? If you are the type who peruses horse magazines, which topics do you find irretrievably old and tired and would rather not see again in your lifetime? I promise I’ll stop writing about them immediately.