While in the country with Mark’s family, there was an opportunity for the boys to shoot BB guns. My nephew JJ asked if I wanted to give it a try. M said no, I hate guns, and JJ cocked his head at me in a disbelieving way. I think it’s safe to assume most people he knows have fired some sort of gun, so I must’ve been a rarity. I did look at them, and ask how to load them, and he said “if you don’t like them, why do you care?” Ah, young grasshopper. Because I’m a writer.
I watched them shoot for a bit just to study how they held the gun and aimed and shot. No, I have no interest in doing it myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have an interest in the process. I have been working on notes and dialogue bits for my next big project, and there is a gunfight in it. Right now, I am finding this scene to be the most difficult to actualize, as I know little about guns. I did some research for my last novel, as one of the characters is held at gunpoint, but no one was hit. In my upcoming project, someone dies from gunfire. So, I need to learn a little about it.
I don’t like guns. Despite my liberal leanings, though, I also am not trying to take your gun away. You want to hunt, hunt. You feel safer with a pistol for protection? Go ahead. No, I can’t for the life of me understand the need for assault rifles, and yes, I don’t think you should have a gun if you cannot pass a background or mental health check, but that’s just my belief and I’m not going to go after yours. Here’s my situation…I have mental illness. Hubs is an ex-con. We absolutely should not have a gun. And we are wise enough to see these roadblocks and come to that conclusion. I just wish other people could.
But politics aside. Sometimes, as writers, we have to investigate things we never thought we would. Our search histories are insane. For me, right now, it’s guns. I never thought I would have to learn about them, but here I am attending YouTube University in hopes of writing a realistic scene.
I considered having JJ show me how to fire, but the bit of me deep down that remembers the day there was a gunfight across the street from my house keeps me from asking. I know that is only my experience, but it’s one of the small things that keep me from wanting to hunt or shoot in general. I think of the deaths by guns in my city that I see on the news, almost every night. I think of a friend of a friend who had his head blown off at a party one night. I think of 23,000 or so people that killed themselves with a gun this year. And then, I think of Bambi’s mom.
It’s just not for me.
But writing and research is, so I will immerse myself in something I never intended to know anything about for the purpose of my project. I doubt I will discover anything I like about guns, but I will hopefully discover some practicality for them. I am playing with the possibility of another character being a sniper…so after basic gunfight research, I may have to look into that.
Anyway, my point is that writing is challenging when you have an idea and no practical knowledge of how that idea works. So, you start your research, and you hope you learn enough to make it sound plausible. They say write what you know…that’s terrible advice. The entire genre of fantasy wouldn’t exist if people did that. Write what you imagine…and write what you’ve learned.
One thought on “On Guns and Writing”
Researching things you dislike can be a little daunting, but I find that the dislike fades a little after doing that. But it almost feels like you’re writing for a dodgy company and you have to sell products you don’t believe in. Thanks for sharing this!