Screw Your Arrow!

I would start this out by saying “In the gaming world…” but the fact is the “Arrow to the Knee” phrase has fast become a cliche even among non-gamers.  In Skyrim, just about every other NPC guard or soldier you pass by tells you, “I used to be an adventurer like you.  Then I took an arrow to the knee.”  It’s become a joke, but with my recent disappointment in the Dragon Age fanfiction contest, I realized that the arrow to the knee is a pathetic excuse.

It started when I publicly announced my disappointment on my facebook, and friends were super-encouraging and told me to keep going; write for its own sake, follow my dreams, that sort of thing.  The fact that I have such friends makes me feel truly blessed, and I know that they don’t just say those things because it’s the ‘nice’ thing to say.  I replied to one, “Oh, I’ll keep writing, no doubt about that. This isn’t an arrow to my knee by any means. Right now it just kind of stings because I’d had such hopes for this.”  I confess that on my way home from work I had a fair share of sniffles in the car.  I moped about my apartment until now, and I’m still not feeling all that great.  Even though I worked hard to write a well-crafted story, I felt almost ashamed of it for not making it.  I briefly entertained thoughts of deleting my Dragon Age fanfiction and crawling into a black hole of shame and self-loathing and whiny blogging.

And then I realized that’s what the Skyrim soldiers did.

As an adventurer throughout the land of Skyrim I’ve been burned, frozen, and shocked, and those are just the magic attacks.  I’ve been skewered with swords and hacked with axes and nommed by dragons.  I’ve taken arrows to my FACE.  And I keep adventuring.  I keep fulfilling Dark Brotherhood contracts and doing numbers jobs for the Thieves’ Guild.  I keep seeking out dragons to kill and words of power to learn.  I chug healing potions and hide from enemies and sneak for miles after targets.  If I gave up after one arrow to the knee, things would be boring, nothing would get done, and the world wouldn’t get saved.

Okay, so my writing, fan or otherwise, isn’t world-changing or on the level of saving the world.  If I don’t write again, it’s not like the world’s doing to collapse.  But my world might.  Another friend who’d entered and fared the same as me said she was trying to remember that she wrote for the sake of writing, which is what I’m trying to remember.  Who am I?  I am a writer, pure and simple.  Writing is an art, and appreciation of art is subjective in the end, even if there are objective aspects to what makes it ‘good’ or ‘contest winning worthy’.  If I were to let one lost contest cripple me and take me down for the count, what sort of writer would I be? 

So Skyrim soldiers?  Screw your arrow.  If one arrow to the knee is going to make you complain about how you can’t be an adventurer anymore, maybe you never deserved to be an adventurer in the first place.


14 comments on “Screw Your Arrow!

  1. What an awesome attitude to have. You are so right, they totally didn’t deserve it. Screw them, and the arrow their knee rode in on.
    But if we all gave up after one bad thing, what a world of wimps and…. something else but I don’t know what…. we would be.

    • It seems so easy to let one bad thing become an excuse for giving up, and I just realized that this is what the arrow in the knee is all about. Yeah, it still kind of stings (even after having some good things happen tonight), but by the same token, so would a real arrow in my knee (or anywhere else). But I kept moving rather than falling over, and I think that’s the key. *hug* Thanks so much for all the support!

  2. Hear hear!

    I didn’t even enter the contest, partly because I’m still adjusting to the idea that anyone might ever think anything I write is worth reading, but I’m so with you on the frustrations of people trying to judge art, be it writing or drawing or film (omg, film!) by a standardized rubric.

    And for the record… you are not allowed to delete your Dragon Age fanfiction. Ever.

    • It was a momentary, angsty thought brought on by self-pity. It’s passed now, but I still have the lingering doubts and slight shame about my contest entry. I may let it out eventually, but for now I’ll just get back to Fianna and AU Cailan. Cailan always makes me feel better… as does the support of my fellow writer friends *cough you cough*

  3. Don’t you dare delete that fic! Theirin fangirls everywhere will riot, me included!

    Anyway, yeah it sucks not to be shortlisted, but I tell myself that my story wasn’t “bad”, just ” not what he was looking for”.

    • Hehe, it was just a fleeting thought. They say write what you know; well, I know Cailan, but I don’t really know mages/templars. I wrote a decent story about a templar… but I could write an excellent story about Cailan. I think you have the right attitude, about writing for the enjoyment of the task and remaining objective about the subjectivity of things.

  4. LOL, you’ll be fine. You’re pretty talented.

    They always tell you “write to get published.” I’ve come to the belief in life that the best writers write for themselves first. J.K. Rowling wrote a story she wanted to read first and hoped others would like it. Stephanie Meyer on the other hand, she wrote to get published… and it shows. It works for a bunch of teens who think Salinger is something you put in guacamole but for the rest of us…

    As a writer you have to be true to yourself first or else you’re just being dishonest to your readers. And that ain’t cool.

    A lot of those writers that write for games started off as programmers, they had an in and they got lucky; if they had to submit something or enter a contest to get the job they probably wouldn’t have. Don’t feel so bad about that contest. Fan fiction is great stuff to keep you in practice but ultimately it’s just a meaningless exercise in self-indulgence. Don’t get too hung up on it.

    Please don’t take that as a smear on fan fiction, if you’ve read through my site you’ll know I’ve dabbled in it myself. I’m just saying don’t let it be your focus.

    • Thanks for that 🙂 I think because this fanfiction contest was blessed by the powers that be in the fandom, with really awesome prizes, that made it feel like my hobby was “legitimate”. Not that it’s illegitimate, mind, but I’m used to the reward being reviews and yes, self-indulgence.

      I’m a bit disappointed still and probably always will be, but after getting out and seeing friends and having a good voice lesson and such I’m feeling a lot better. Arrows happen; it’s just a matter of whether it’s going to cripple me or not, and in this case, this one won’t. Thanks again for the words of wisdom and the support 🙂

    • I LOVE that video… so true. Now I get that knee injuries are painful, as are arrow wounds. Combine an arrow with a knee, and it’ll hurt like a son of a seabiscuit. But to let that one injury take you out of the game? And to complain about it all the time? Get over it and move on! LOL. I love how that video captures the whole idea. Thanks for that!

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