The Boy and his Mare

I hope readers don't get tired of seeing photos of my kid and the little mare, but I can't help bragging on them when they continue to improve, not just in skill, but in teamwork -- which is so key to so many things in life.

Jared has struggled with a lot in the last couple of years, some troubles at school, homeschooling (learning appropriate study habits, discipline, self-tasking), but the main thing I've seen him overcome is the pass/fail mentality that seems to plague so many kids these days.

So many things, he has tried, didn't do great the first time out and decided it wasn't so much fun.

I attribute a great deal of his progress to the wonderful family atmosphere of the CMSA and especially to the people who have reached out to us in the Texas Smokin' Guns club. It's a tough sport and it's made him a tougher kid.

He always did pretty well endurance riding with me, but in a lot of ways, he started in the sport, basically, riding at a level with most adults. He's a pretty good hand with a horse, in camp and on the trail. He can walk, jog, gallop, cross creeks, and handle about any kind of terrain.

So when he first tried shooting, it was fun, but tough, and all the other kids were a lot better than him - and that's hard for a guy, especially when he'd been doing so well elsewhere. In endurance, I was continually holding him back, his skillset was at or above the level of competition we intended for each day.

In CMSA, he's continually having to learn, practice and refine both his riding and his shooting. It set him back and we've had some false starts and some off days, but over the last year, he's seen his scores consistently improving. And even better than that he can see and feel how much his horsemanship is improving, and how much better he's working with this particular mare and that is the most rewarding thing.

We had a tough weekend at the last event. We were rained out on Saturday and so we camped and competed in the heat and humidity on Sunday. It made for a long weekend, but well worth it for the success we had.

In a way, I wonder if the shooting means more to him because it's harder, because each step and each success is harder earned than endurance ever was for him and it occurs to me I've heard all this before in plotting classes. That we should 'throw rocks' at our heroes, that we should exact costly vengeance on them before they meet their successes; and I think about all the nicey-nice *bleh* books I've tossed aside unfinished.

It makes me realize how important it is for our heroes and heroines not just to have struggle and fight overcome the odds, but I understand now that, in many ways, 'character arc' is more about growth than change. In _Writing to the Point_ Algis Budrys says that characters don't actually change, because that would be false to the consistency of the readers observation of people. But that being under stress (conflict) reveals hitherto concealed facets -that the character reaches deeper into themselves, tries again, tries a little harder, learns a new skill based on existing ones, and uses that to snatch victory from the grasp of the villain. And I have to say, that as I go along, it makes more and more sense to me. Perhaps I'm finally learning to reach a little deeper myself.


L.A. Mitchell said...

It's a good way of looking at characterization. Makes me think of Stephen King's dinosaur bone excavation analogy. A brush used in subtle ways will find what's already there, just hidden.

Becky Burkheart said...

Oh Yes! I've heard that before about the brush and agree it's a wonderful analogy. It's a good point for us all to remember.

Lynn Reynolds said...

Wow, Sue, I'm impressed. He's sure more coordinated than I'll ever be. Good for him for sticking with it!

Becky Burkheart said...

Hey Lynn, it's great to hear from you.

Haha! about Jared. He's much more coordinated then I am as well! :)

(I saw you posted twice when the first one didn't go through, so I just released the first one. It's because I have the posts moderated. I do that so I can allow anon posters)

Val said...

Glad to hear ya'll had a good horse camping/shooting outing...
Challenge is a good thing, heh heh!

L.A. Mitchell said...

Hey Sue,
I thought of you last night when I flipped it to Showtime and watched a short bit of "On Deadly Ground" (I know--what was I thinking??) and Steven Segal's character and his lady friend jump the canyon rim on a horse. I was sure you'd pick that apart somehow.

Hope your writing is going well :)

K.M. Saint James said...

Just read the article on Donald Maas's book (Writing The Break-out Novel). The article discussed layering in the conflict, actually it was more like shoveling it on. So made me consider if I have enough conflict for my heroine -- I mean I really want her to be tortured.

I'll be looking this week at each scene to see if I've made it bad enough.

Great topic for discussion.

Drop by my new website:

Have a great writing week.