This is one of my personal favourite posts from two years ago. I’ve been thinking a lot about this particular post lately because I truly enjoyed writing it.
Rereading this was also a good reminder that I once wrote a book I loved (and still do, even though two years has passed.) I still need to do something about that, don’t I?
Maybe I just need to take aim and shoot…
On February 18th, 2013, I finished writing my novel. This is actually the second novel which I have written, but probably the only one which will see publishing (at least it is my hope that it will). Don’t get me wrong, this novel still needs editing, touchups, and revisions here and there, but for all intents and purposes the story has ended… for now.
It took a long time to write the ending to the novel. For the most part, the story flowed quite freely, taking a lot less time to write than my first book. The ending, however, took two and a half months to write. Part of me thinks this was the case because I was reluctant to give up the characters with whom I fell in love, each in their own way. The more I wrote and thought about these characters, the more real they became. As well, at times, the small town which I wrote about seemed just as real (if not more) than my own surroundings. (I even had the strangest desire to seek out this place which I was sure existed somewhere, not just in my imagination, and planned a tentative trip out to eastern Canada to search for it. The journey, unfortunately, had to be postponed.)
Part of me also didn’t know how the story was supposed to end. I don’t exactly write following the rules – I don’t bother much with outlines and plot sketches. I’m kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer, or a “whim writer”, as my W fondly calls me. When I write, the only elements and rules that I follow are the thoughts in my head. Characters’ voices speak to me (sounds creepy I know, but really it’s not!). Inspiration comes from various sources: a picture, a thought, a phrase, even a name can trigger a story-line, action, behavior, or personality trait of a character or inspire a blog post. It’s a fantastic process – one that I don’t nearly have enough time to enjoy.
This week’s blog post was inspired by the above image.
This picture features the friend of a friend on their skeet shooting adventure. Now, I don’t know a whole lot about skeet shooting (I’ll get to that in a bit), but I do know that when I came across this photo on Facebook I was immediately struck by its strength and simplicity, all at once. It’s a simple picture, but its striking light, the black and white background juxtaposed by the coloured images in the foreground (completely naturally), and the strength and determination in the posture of the shooter spoke volumes to me. I was moved by this picture and I knew immediately that I had to write about it.
I actually knew very little about skeet shooting until writing this blog, but I will admit that it has always intrigued me. I think the first time I may have seen skeet or clay shooting was in the movie “Overboard” where Goldie Hawn’s husband is shooting skeet off of the deck of their luxury yacht. (Yes, that was a while ago.) It’s always seemed like a neat sport – much less brutal and bloody than hunting itself. Wikipedia.org tells me that skeet shooting “is a recreational and competitive activity where participants, using shotguns, attempt to break clay disks automatically flung into the air from two fixed stations at high speed from a variety of angles.”
From my readings I also learned that skeet shooting is meant to simulate the action of bird hunting. There are rules as to which skeet should be shot first, high or low, and stations set up to determine how the targets are launched from the high or low house. My eyes started to glaze over a bit on the rules (I’m generally a visual and let-me-just-try-it kind of person), but I think I got the general idea. I also found some interesting bits of history – the word “skeet” was said to be derived from the Norwegian word for “shoot” (skyte) and during WW II, skeet was used in the American military to teach gunners the principle of leading and timing on a flying target. Makes sense to me.
(In my research, I actually came across a great blog site devoted solely to skeet shooting: Bloggin’ on Skeet , which boasts Skeet Shooting 101. I like to support fellow bloggers and this is actually pretty cool stuff. Check it out here.)
So, here’s my big idea:
Living is a lot like writing. Writing is a lot like skeet shooting.
Similar to writing, living is about carving a path, creating a storyline for ourselves by the decisions and choices we make, and how we deal with the consequences of our actions, good and bad. For every action there is a reaction and a series of events which follow it. We are never stuck or defeated. At any given moment we have the power to say, “This is not how the story is going to end”. God gave us brains, instinct, and will for a reason. We are co-authors in our lives – we may ask God to guide our footsteps, but we have to be willing to move our feet.
When we go about our daily lives we set goals for ourselves – perhaps even something as simple as getting through the day. When we, as writers, create, we set goals for ourselves too. The goal may be similar to getting through the day or the week, perhaps it is finishing a chapter or making a blog deadline.
Shooting skeet is not much different. There is a goal to be attained: getting the best score possible. There are decisions to be made: where to aim and when to pull the trigger. There is the skill and precision in the act of taking aim and firing. In life, the skeet can be considered the goals we set and how we choose to take target them. In writing, the skeet are the writing pieces (whether they be blogs, reviews, short stories, or novels) which are thrown out into the world to be targeted by the shooters (the readers, agents, publishers). Skeet can also be ideas – you launch an idea into the air, take aim at your readers, and fire away in your writing. Sometimes you hit bang on (in skeet terms called dead), sometimes you completely pulverize the skeet itself (smoke it), and sometimes it’s a complete miss of the target (lost).
In writing, skeet shooting, and life sometimes you get a hit (success) and sometimes it’s a miss (the opportunity to try again). Just like a determined skeet shooter you keep trying, out of sheer determination at some points, sending skeet out high and low. It can test your patience and your skill, but generally it’s your innate desire to succeed which keeps you moving forward and completing the round.
You see, writing, skeet shooting, and life aren’t all that different. We might need to consider the following questions: Do we take initiative in life? Do we take aim and fire? Do we follow through with our goals or do we give up? Do we choose which battles to fight or do we attempt to work them out as they occur? Is our life full of incomplete rounds, indecisive ponderings, unfinished stories? When at first we don’t succeed, do we re-load and try again?
In my own life, I know that I need to get back to my current novel and finish its edits. I also need to finish editing my first book, just to have the satisfaction of seeing it to completion. I need to take aim at agents, publishers, independent publishing companies, and anyone who will read me. I need to send that skeet high into the air and fire all 25 shots. If I don’t succeed in this round, then I need to get back out on the range and try again.
I think I may finally be getting this living and writing thing down pat, maybe next I can convince the boys to take me out shootin’ skeet…
(Dear Readers, Special thanks to Grant Glover and Benjamin Czyz for sharing their awesome skeet shootin’ photos with me! Photo credits belong to them. I do believe I will be adding Shooting Skeet onto my list of “Things I Wanna Do”! Thank you for your likes, comments, and shares! Please like our Facebook page Writing For The Love of It and follow me on Twitter at @kim_blais. Keep on shootin’! ~ K ~)