Now that I’ve done a few pieces of writing. A magical realism based on an Ojibwa myth, a ghost story and the beginnings of a novel in addition to brainstorming some other stories I noticed that I have an obsession that I can’t get out of my head. Typically when I am not sure what to write I have different ideas that don’t really relate in theme or subject, but this time they are related by a common thread.
I seem to have an obsession about hunters. I began to run into them literally when I started trail running a few years ago. They scared me. It’s alarming to have one or more big men come up upon you on a trail heavily armed with guns, bows in head to toe camouflage and possible even dark face paint. I even had a nightmare or two about it. I felt a bond with the deer. On some trails I’d be quite close to bucks and does, even talk to them – sounds crazy. One evening as it was getting dark I put my hand the back of a doe and we ran side by side for as long as I could keep up (not long). Gun shots nearby frequent during hunting season would startle me and make me nervous. I identified myself with prey.
This year is different. Though I will never hunt, I took up archery when my son did. We have a compound bow on loan from a friend and it’s a nice weapon. It can bring down a deer. My son is enrolled in a national archery program for target shooting. But the archery supplier we had to go to get equipment is a hard core bow hunting club in a very small rural Ohio town nearby.
I was so out of place there that even though I dressed very outdoorsy they smelled an outsider right off and were suspicious. Being a woman didn’t help either. Other than the owner’s wife, there weren’t any other females around. I played it humble and admitted I was completely clueless and that I’d appreciate a little help but they were guaranteed a good laugh.
An older hunter practicing on the range was kind enough to give me pointers – a master’s class on marksmanship with this borrowed bow I had. I only felt foolish for the first couple rounds and then I was shooting okay and helping my son. A couple of other younger men in camo stood back watching. They appeared to have come straight from hunting. They had the tailgate of their truck down in the parking lot with some game in it. This place is also certified by the state to check in game so while waiting, they watched me. I felt kind of self conscious but no one was laughing. I think it was the fact everyone was so quiet and just watching me try to hit target that unnerved me.
After an hour and a half of practice and meeting regulars I think I passed the test. The old timers were friendly and the owner’s wife offered me a cup of coffee and a brownie. She said “We’re family here.” I asked some questions, thinking about maybe investing in my own bow, for what though? I won’t hunt animals…but I feel an attraction to the hunter culture. It’s a strange place to be. I don’t need to hunt, I would hate to kill but I like the idea of being out in the woods, stalking, working at getting a prize, even eating it (but not so much the cleaning and gutting part). If only nobody got hurt. Maybe I should try paintball.
But hunting is cropping up obsessively in my recent writing projects. I can’t get hunting and hunters out of my head. A half dozen ideas have included hunters or hunting in the scenes. How long will the obsession last? Maybe until hunting season is over.
Do you get obsessed with any particular subjects in your writing? Do you try to push them away or do you exploit them and see where it goes?