For my book birthday, I give myself some advice.

One of the most challenging things for archers is shooting well on in the wind. But on a blustery day, you’ve got to deal with the fact that the wind is going to affect your arrow’s flight.

I was hoping this would make a good metaphor for launching a book into the world, a perfect blog post on No Good Deed’s book birthday. There’s a great article on how to shoot in the wind (titled, helpfully, “6 Tips for Shooting Better in the Wind,“), and I thought, great! I love lists. I’ll list how releasing your book is like releasing an arrow when you have little control over how the wind is going to affect it.

 

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How I think I look in the wind.

Except, of course, that archers like Ellie, the heroine of No Good Deed, and, more to the point, the article’s author, Crystal Gauvin, an actual #1 ranked U.S. archer, can account for the wind’s effect on the arrow’s flight and adjust accordingly. Whereas No Good Deed was done a year ago, so there’s not really any accounting for the current climate.

 

 

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How I actually look in the wind.

Then I thought again about the tips Gauvin lists in her article, and while the book/arrow release metaphor breaks down, there’s advice here that does speak to me right now.

 

“Practice, practice, practice.”

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You don’t pick up a bow and go to the Olympics, and most people don’t sit down at the keyboard and write a publishable manuscript on their first try. And even if they do, there are rewrites, revisions, copy edits…  Even Mozart wrote first drafts. His widow just burned them so no one would know that.

“Stay Mentally Strong.”

Gauvin is talking here about focus, but also about attitude. It’s defeatist to show up at a shoot thinking, “Oh man, it’s windy. This is going to suck.” That, and you have to focus 100 percent. If you have a bad end, shake it off and move on to the next shot.

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I take this to mean “stay in the moment.” Because when it comes to the book, that arrow is shot. Gone downrange. Hopefully, lots of people will love it and get what I was going for, but if I dwell on the ones that don’t, or I start thinking, “Oh, if only I’d…” it helps nothing. I have to stay in the moment and focus on the book I’m working on now. (And also, not read reviews.)

Which brings me to the first point in the article and the last point in this manifesto blog:

“Trust your shot and be aggressive.”

When it comes to archery, you practice, practice, practice, and then you trust your judgment and let off a strong shot. And you want to shoot strong because, one, the wind will have less effect on a strong shot than a tentative one; and two, if you are off your mark, you will know that it was due to the wind and not to your sorry shooting, and then you’ll know where to aim your next one.

I actually read this while I was writing No Good Deed, and when I did, I suddenly had a handle on Ellie’s character. Ellie isn’t aggressive, but the way she approaches problems is to trust her instincts and commit to the course she decides.

If I were able to give Past Kara one piece of advice, this would probably be it. And not just as it applies to writing (though this is an excellent piece of writing advice). Don’t second guess so much. Do your research, make an educated decision based on the facts at hand, then trust your logic and instincts and commit. Shoot a good, strong shot.

Now, if only advice were as easy to apply as it is to give.

Good shooting and happy reading,

Kara

 

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