BOYS 'n' TOYS: The Tommy-gun-totin' feller on the left is author Steve Martini. I've got the H&K MP5 at the right. We were at firearms display at last year's ThrillerFest.
I write, therefore I shoot.
Or is it the other way around?
Doesn't matter. When I'm stuck in a beaver dam of words, I need to move. Not just metaphorically, but physically. So I walk. Lift weights. Mow the grass. Fix something around the house.
But mostly, I shoot.
There are several good gun ranges within a half hour of my house, and I take full advantage. Pistols, mostly; both revolvers and semiautos. I love the snick of the hammer. Stroke of the trigger. Blast and careen of gunpowder exploding, bullet leaving the barrel, splatting onto the (paper) target. The smell of burnt gunpowder curling out of the barrel and into my nose.
Big bangs cleanse the mind right fiercely.
Some of you don't like guns. You wonder why I'd write about "evil killing machines good only for murdering poor innocent children," let alone admit to liking and using them regularly.
First, I'd be a big ol' hypocrite if I didn't. They're in every single book I write. They're in every crime book I read. Most books you read, too; c'mon, admit it. You wouldn't be here at CM if you didn't like crime novels.
Second, guns are a tool. It's people that make them bad (armed robbers) or good (cops). To say guns cause murder is to say cars cause DUIs. Just 'tain't so.
Third, it's fun. Shooting is a mental, physical and intellectual exercise. Think not? You try putting a fiery hunk o'lead into a bullseye the size of your big toe--100 feet away--then tell me it's easy. It takes enormous hand-eye-head coordination to line up everything so the hole appears where it's supposed to.
Fourth, it's a free country, and I can.
Enough of that. What shooting does for my writing is significant: the noise and the jump and the ritual make me focus. It gets rid of the monkey brain that occurs when I'm in the throes of writing. All other things fade to nothingness while I'm in the arena. That lets my subconscious shoot away at that tangled beaver dam of words. When I'm done firing a couple hundred rounds of ammo, my writing problems have been blasted to smithereens.
And the smell of coffee curling into my nose on the drive home is sweet indeed.