Courtney Maum’s latest book, her memoir The Year of the Horses, is about a writer at a rough point in her writing career, in her marriage, as a mother, as a woman, finding a way back to herself in all of these spheres by learning to listen and communicate, outside of language, to another species. What are the therapeutic benefits of learning to be with a horse of all creatures, an animal that is not geared towards comforting us or aiming to please? Why do anxious or traumatized people find help by being with an anxious animal? And what can a person like Courtney, whose life is word-centric, as a language maker, a writer, bring back to language when returning to the desk from the barn?
We discuss these questions, but we also unpack issues of gender and misogyny with regards to how memoir writing is framed, and talk about the status of women and animals in the world of writing and the world of riding both. Lastly, because Courtney is a writing teacher, a writing coach, and the author of Before and After the Book Deal, we talk about agents and editors, drafting and revision, and about useful tips and techniques to take one’s abundance of life material and shape it into story.
For the bonus audio archive Courtney contributes a discussion of an essay by poet, essayist, and psychoanalyst Nuar Alsadir. This joins bonus readings from everyone from Ada Limón to Teju Cole, Sheila Heti to Victoria Chang. To find out how to subscribe to the bonus audio and the many other potential benefits of becoming a supporter of the show head over to the Between the Covers Patreon page.
Here is the Bookshop for today’s conversation with all the books mentioned today.