Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Shoot Your Arrows

Arrows are amazing things.
Such a small, narrow thing, yet it flies far and can have great effect at its point of impact. A good arrow is well balanced, with a sharp head, and with true fletching to keep it directed toward the intended target.

A bow hunter (those who most commonly use arrows nowadays), make sure the arrowhead is sharp, sharp enough to shave with. Sharp enough to pierce the tough hide of the creatures they hunt. They may practice with the bow, but once they know the bow and where it shoots, they turn their attention to the arrows.

In days gone by, before there were sports shops for the bow hunter, an archer made his own arrows. He found the straightest materials for the shaft, not too stiff, but not too springy either. He forged his own arrowheads if he had the metal, or knapped his own from flint or obsidian if he did not. He found the best feathers, often selecting eagle tail feathers, if he could get them.

He would test them, to see if the results of his efforts had given him what he sought. If so, he would repeat the design.

If not, the arrow was broken. Or, if not too off-the-mark, used in practice sessions where accuracy was not the focus, but rather the training of the muscles and eye to the effort required in the bending of the bow and the releasing of the string

And, taking just pride in the result of his labors, he would often mark them in such a way as to be identifiable as his. His brand, if you will.

Then they would be placed in his quiver for the time of the hunt, or of battle.

Because that is the whole point: to shoot the arrow.

The Bible tells us that a man's children are like arrows in the quiver of a mighty man. And we ought not to keep our arrows in the quiver; indeed, we cannot. They will launch themselves willy-nilly regardless if we do not direct them. Even so, they are self-guided missiles.

This does not mean we can make of them what we want, if it is against their natural leanings. As a wise parent we need to be aware of our children's inclinations, and direct them along likely paths, and not try to make them into something they cannot be, nor do something at which they cannot be successful.

And we parents have done exactly the latter far too often. But I digress.

Those of us who write have other children: our stories. We work on them, lavish our most sincere efforts on them, and then we send them out ...

... Unless we are afraid of rejection letters.

The purpose of an arrow is to shoot it. Whether it strikes it mark, or it is lost, it must be shot. It does no good to make the perfect arrow then leave it in the quiver.

This bears repeating:

Once the arrow is crafted it must be shot.

Once a story is written, it must be sent, often many, many times, into the world to be published.

Otherwise, it is as prettily useless as the arrow in the quiver that is ‘too nice to shoot’.

Shoot your arrows.

Yes, you can.