Monday, August 22, 2011

When Dreams Come True - A Post For the Sparkfest

What book or author supplied the spark
for your love of writing, WIP, changed
your world view, or otherwise inspired
you? To join or read other entries,
click the icon above, or here , which
will take you to Christine Tyler's The
Writer Coaster.

I held on to his mane, feeling the power of his body under me. He fought the ocean with all of his might, buoying us both with that incredible force of will, that spirit which could never be broken. By the time we reached the island's shore, I was almost insensible; and when I could finally stagger to my feet, he was gone. But I would find him.

For I was the one saved by The Black Stallion and destined to become his cherished and trusted friend, not Alec. At least it was so in my dreams.

Books were a large part of my childhood, but the ones which I read most avidly were the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. I read them until they fell apart, until I could recite whole passages. They fueled my passion for horses, for writing, for adventure. They taught me history, horse racing, and about overcoming odds.

My grandfather and his wife had retired to Florida when I was small, but we kept in touch and I sent him letters, many of which contained drawings of the Black Stallion and his offspring. One Christmas he had a very special gift for me - a signed copy of The Black Stallion's Ghost. It said "for Lisa - Merry Christmas from your friend Walter Farley 1971".

I was eight years old and nearly beside myself. The great man had chosen a book especially for me, and not only signed it but called me "his friend". It was almost as good as my cherished dream of having him adopt me. (I was convinced that he lived somewhere with a gigantic herd of beautiful horses freely roaming the grounds.)

My grandfather kept in touch with Mr. Farley, and in 1975 when we visited, he arranged for us to meet the author at his house. There were no horses, but the Great Dane Thor (star of a book by the same title) was on hand.

I was 12, and my social awkwardness was in full bloom. Add to that my worship of Mr. Farley, and you can imagine the state I was in. (My older sister, a very mature 15, was less than impressed with the proceedings. I think she resented giving up beach time.)

I wish that I could say that he had profound words and insights to offer. He probably did, but I was so tongue-tied and twiddle-brained that I don't remember. I know I wished that I could tell him how much I loved his books and the horses he imagined, but I was too embarrassed. And yet I felt like he understood. I imagined that we were communicating just as Alec and The Black did, without words.

The actual conversation doesn't matter.

What does matter is that he was kind. His love of writing and animals shone in his face. He had taken the time to sign a book, to invite us to his home, to make a child - as well as a fan - feel special. When I got home a week later, there was a letter for me; gentleman that he was, HE thanked ME for visiting him.

I can't say that the visit inspired me to be a writer; at that time, I was still underweight and determined that I would be the first female professional jockey.

It has, however, inspired me through my later years.

Write what you know, and what you love.

If you ever become a writer of any renown, be gracious. Be kind. Be patient with your fans.

Words are powerful things, but sometimes the unspoken can be more so.

You live on, Mr.Farley, through your books and in my heart. I have never forgotten you.

I miss you, Pappy; you searched out someone who was important to me and made it happen.

Wonderful men, both of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

For information on The Renaissance Rule of Three blogfest coming soon, click here.


  1. Oh, Li, how cool is that?!? What a wonderful thing for your grandfather to do for you and for Mr. Farley to be so gracious. I was a Farley fan, but not in the same way you were. I loved horses, too. I'm so glad you shared this with us. I bet Mr Farley would be happy to see what you're accomplishing as a writer, and that you moved forward with it so beautifully.

  2. OH. MY. GOD! You met Walter Farley! You are SO lucky! I loved those Black Stallion books, too. Loved them with all my heart. At one time in my life I would have thought meeting Walter Farley akin to meeting Mick Jagger or even God. They were the best books, weren't they? Such a wonderful writer. How lucky are you to have met the great man in person. And how wonderful Pappy was to find him for you.
    Wow! You've made my day. Thanks!

  3. It really was the coolest thing. Sometimes a small gesture of kindness, a few moments out of our day, can make a powerful and lasting impression on someone.And in today's "celebrity" culture, examples of grace or just plain common decency are often difficult to find.

  4. Hi Cathy- I KNOW! I have to get over to my Mom's and go thru her photo albums. I'm sure that there is a picture of us together, along with Thor. I feel really sad that I can't find my copy :-((((

  5. What great memory Li! I read those books and I did have a pony, who in my mind was a Stallion. But your closing was powerful and true.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  6. What a wonderful story! Even if you don't remember exactly what happened, it obviously had an impact on you. And you still have the signed book!

  7. That is so fantastic! Walter Farley sounds so gracious and kind, and how amazing that it's had such a wonderful impact on you.

  8. Hi Jules. I'm glad you feel that way, 'cause I was a little teary-eyed when I wrapped it in. (And I'm not the maudlin type.)

    Alex- yep, I have it. I've tried to take really good care of it. It's not pristine - I read it far too many times, and it's been packed and re-packed many times - but it's still in good shape.

    Morning Talli - he really was a wonderful man. And I'm still fascinated with the Black Stallion- several years ago we were in Orlando and I dragged the family to "see" him at the Arabian Nights dinner theater. :-)

  9. Wow, what an amazing Pappy... and an amazing gift. That is certainly one to be cherished. I love horses too. I've owned a couple in my life. Books made a huge impact on my life too. I was crazy about Little Women when I was young... and Jane Eyre.

  10. I loved The Black, too. As well as My Friend, Flicka. In the end, memories are all we have; we should cherish them.

  11. Before I comprehended the words, I 'read' The Black Stallion by looking at the illustrations and making up my own story.

    When I learned to read, it was the first book I got through, cover to cover.

    I joined the Black Stallion club in the sixties and received the card notifying me of my membership but the pin was missing. I wrote a short note thanking the organization but whining a little.

    Walter Farley wrote me back (!!), with the missing pin accompanying the letter. He apologized and signed his name.
    Talk about fainting! Very cool.

  12. That is such a touching story!
    How cool to meet your favorite author as a child! And even cooler that he turned out to be a true gentleman!

  13. Doralynn - I loved Little Women too! I identified with Jo, the tomboy and always getting into scrapes.

    @Jackie - Oh yes, Flicka. I shed many a tear over that book and movie. Black Beauty too!

    @Huntress - glad you finally got your pin, and it was worth the wait since you got a note too;-)

    @Brianna - and, come to think of it, thank goodness it was an author who was still around and lived in the same country!

  14. Awesome story. My bestie loves the Black Stallion books. I, on the other hand, was all about Black Beauty. I did love the Black Stallion movie, watched it so much when I was little.

  15. I just love, more than anything else, getting to know more about you. Great post. I'm gonna do one too.

  16. That is awesome! How exciting to get that book THEN get to meet him.

    Speaking of exciting, I'm your 200th follower. 200! Yippee!

  17. That is awesome. Wow, a signed copy of The Black Stallion. That is so cool. :)

  18. Patricia Lynne - I loved Black Beauty, but it made me cry. Also, National Velvet!

    @Stu (Born Storyteller) *gasp* you like Walter Farley enough to do a post too?!?

    Shelly - yay you! Envision balloons and confetti and those thingies you blow in and they unroll.(What ARE those things called...) anyway, welcome aboard!!!!!

    Ciara - it is way cool. Thank goodnes it never got lost in all of the moves from home to college to apsrtment, etc.

  19. Oh wow. What a beautiful story! I once met my favourite band. It was a bit of an exclusive thing and I was invited because I'd been a part of their fan club since forever. I was absolutely useless - I looked at my feet the whole time and simply couldn't get a single sentence out. Thank goodness I went with a friend and he was able to hold a decent conversation with them!

    Aren't the best celebrities always the most humble and kind?

  20. Aw Li, you made me tear up. This piece was beautiful, well written, and so engaging. You're a wonderful writer and I believe Mr. Farley and Pappy would be so proud of you.

  21. You're right, Emm - I think there are "celebrities", and then there are "stars". The stars are the people who are gracious, kind, and actually do something to contribute to making the world a better place in some way.

    Leah - that makes me feel great. Really. If it's close to my heart, then I want my readers to feel that. :-)))

  22. What a wonderful story and memory! Thank you so much for sharing. That just touched my heart!

    The Write Soil

  23. how awesome is that!
    gave me goose bumps =)

  24. I see we share Walter Farley love. I'm so jealous you got to meet him. I've got to get me a copy of Man O'War. That was my favorite. It was never on the library shelf, because I always had it checked out. lol

  25. Awww! That is amazingly sweet that your grandfather did that for you - and how cool is that that you got to meet your favourite writer? And his great dane, too! Lol... (I'm a fellow animal lover. I like horses a lot, but dogs are my fave) I bet it's a very special memory for you! :-)

  26. @Dawn and Tara - gives me goosebumps knowing it moved you in some way!

    @MPax - I learned so much about horse racing and thoroughbreds from that book!

    @Crystal - he was a beautiful dog, very sweet and well-behaved. And almsot big enough to put a saddle on ;-)

  27. Wow, this is so touching. I...yeah. Magnificent post.

  28. Thanks, Christine. It came from the heart. :-)