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The following Wednesday, I opted to go with Random House.
The biggest problem has been exhaustion. I've spent about 6 of the last 14 years completely bedridden.
Since signing with Universal, I have been working closely with Gary Ross, the director, producer and screenwriter. We have spent many hours on the phone, and I've been sending him information and items that have been useful to the writing process.
People think I must have been turning cartwheels on the night I sealed the movie deal - which was only two days after sealing the book deal - but I was really quite terrified.
My work was entirely nonfiction.
My agent and I put out my proposal one Thursday afternoon in August, 1998. Publishers started bidding immediately, and that process progressed for a few days.
It only worked for a little while; the morning after I agreed to go with Universal, an article came out in the Hollywood trade papers, and the secret was out.
In terms of writing about horses, I fell backwards into that. I was intent on getting a Ph.D., becoming a professor, and writing on history but I got sick 14 years ago when I was 19. Getting sick derailed that plan completely.
I was starstruck and completely confused; making a film of this story hadn't even occurred to me, and I hadn't written a single line of the book yet. I had no idea how this man knew anything about my book proposal.
I think if I had been writing fiction, where the work is entirely dependent on the writer's creativity and the potential directions the narrative might take are infinite, I might have frozen.
I think authors can get into trouble viewing the subject matter as their turf.
I spoke to my agent and learned that a Hollywood scout had seen my proposal in one of the publishing houses, and had faxed it to Hollywood, where it was generating a lot of interest.
I look at the film as an opportunity to see some bountifully creative minds do something that I could not do - tell the story with images. I can't wait to see what they do.
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