Writing Bravely On The Difficult: A Visit with Lauren Mauldin, Senior Editor of The Plaid Horse Magazine


 

The following is an approximate transcript of the Show.

Introduction

The thing that draws me to the writing of Lauren Mauldin is her profound honesty. Laurin is a writer for The Plaid Horse Magazine, who has written movingly and honestly on a number of very difficult subjects, subjects that have often touched her personally. And I believe that in her doing so it helps us move forward on those subjects. At least I know that she has helped me to do so.

Here are just a few of her article titles to give you an idea of what she writes. You can find links to them on the By The Love Of Horses Radio – Facebook page:

"After his first overdose, my husband promised it wouldn’t happen again. I believed him."

"I am a fat equestrian and I’m never dieting again."

"The suicide conversation we should be having before [quote] “They will be missed.”

"Appreciating what we’ve learned from the craziest year ever."

"Barn Family is more than an expression." 

And, “What my terminally ill dog is trying to teach me about riding and life.”

Here’s an excerpt from this last title to give you an idea of Lauren’s writing:

In early February (2020), my beloved, only seven-years-old dog was diagnosed with an aggressive, highly painful cancer. There’s not enough time to write out how much she means to me, but it’s best explained simply. After losing my husband, two dogs, and my heart horse in a period of four years, this dog is the glue that held my broken heart together. And now, she’s dying too.” 

It could be said that writers write to discover truths about themselves, their family, the past, about the world. We all appreciate reading writing that is honest, that rings true.

But in so doing they also help their readers discover truths about themselves. The writer asks for me to be honest with myself – To have an open mind – To be truthful with myself.

Maybe good writing helps us to see truths that we knew only in a vague way before, that we felt in our hearts and souls, so to speak, but which we hadn’t been able to, or taken the time to, state clearly. These are perhaps truths that we feel more than know.

The good writer, however, helps us to put them into words, and asks us to look within. They ask us to climb higher and see the landscapes of our lives, the landscape of the world, from another perspective.

Another thing that I especially appreciate about Lauren’s writing is the way that she has made reference to the importance of the barn. And maybe it is precisely because of some of the difficult issues that Lauren writes on, that we so much need a place like the barn.  

In a world which seems to be at times nothing but change and challenge, having the barn as a kind of haven, a fixed point, a place of retreat that we can go to and be with horses and other people who love them, a “barn family” as the saying goes, is immensely comforting. The barn has a way of centering and grounding us. Time moves quickly there and minutes slip into hours. It is a little like the way that you can get lost in a good book, the hours slip by before you even know it.

Another important feature of the barn to me is its honesty. It does not pretend to be anything more than it is. But, proudly insisting that it is not anything less, the barn stands alone against the background of fields and paddocks, treelines and distant hills.

I find comfort and even inspiration, too, in the very physical structure of the barn itself, in its rustic simplicity. The honesty of its wood beams. The imperfections that it bears modestly. There are, of course, many different types of barns. Some barns are large and absolutely gorgeous, complete with chandeliers. But here I’m thinking more of the modest, rustic, barns, the humbler ones. I’m not alone in loving barns, I believe. Sometimes people bring barn beams into the interior of their homes just to try to capture this same feeling, placing them in the ceiling of their kitchen, for example, or over a fireplace.

But the barn is, of course, above everything else, the place where a particular horse is genuinely happy to see you, where he or she has been waiting for you.

And once again we are asked for something, this time two things:

First, we are asked by the horse to be honest, and to do that we must be honest with ourselves.

Second, we are asked to reflect upon what is truly important.

And it’s questions such as these that are part of the reason why we love being at the barn in the first place. Because when you walk inside of a barn, much as when you walk inside of a good book, you often feel as though you’ve discovered some of the answers you’ve been searching for.

Hi Laurin, so nice to have you here with us today....

Conclusion

The barn stands straight up against the evening sky, rising true and solid and square, in spite of all of the years that have chipped away at it. It is a little like the way that we try to stand up true and straight in spite of the years and events that have chipped away at us.

The beauty of the barn, the horse, the written word, the sunlight piercing the shadow of the unlit space ... these all speak to us of honesty and truth. We aim to be truthful with ourselves. We aim to be truthful with those around us. We do this whether we ride horses or not, whether we write or not. Or, whether like Lauren Maudlin, we do both.

And finally I am going to borrow your written words, Lauren, when I say: "We just want you to stay."