Written by Brendan O’Meara
The drawer is there to put those books that can’t be finished. In the drawer (well, Dropbox) is an 80,000 word manuscript. I had a mentor tell me when I wrote it the first time, when I was fervently trying to publish it, that sometimes we write books and they’re not supposed to be published.
I wrinkled my nose and kicked the dirt, but he was right. Or was he? Maybe these stories need the right time, the right detachment. Maybe we’re not waiting on the book; the book is waiting on us. Maybe we need to reach a certain level of maturity for the book to have the context it lacked.
I wrote this book, On the Backside, about being a horse trainer’s apprentice at a cheap track in Maryland. I was this naive fan getting an education behind the curtain. It just never truly worked, but I think it can now. Now, having covered horse racing for the better part of six years, it has beaten and jaded me. I struggle with the sport. I struggle with the horse fatalities. All that stuff.
Then, my central character, who struggled to get the “big horse,” the one that brings fame and notoriety to a barn, got a big horse. And he brought her to Saratoga, the best track in the country. Twice. And she finished second. Twice. He had arrived. He didn’t win, but he kind of did.
He always said “Maryland is for dreamers, Saratoga is for achievers.” He had finally got that special horse. I had written a (different) book. In a weird way, on our own weird paths, we had made it. We both grind at our craft and hope beyond all hope the cream will rise to the top, as he said.
This new foreground thread of an older narrator looking back at the time when he was naive about horse racing and a time when things seemed boundless, sheds a new light on the past. It makes the past more interesting, knowing where both he and I ended up. So that book is coming out of the drawer where it never died. It was just on a heavy sedative.