Lately, I’ve been exploring writing. I’ve been writing this blog and I’ve been writing a novel. And I’ve been looking all over the internet for advice and help because I know I’m right at the beginning of this adventure and if anyone has everything to learn, that person would be me. And the fun thing is, there are no rules.
Actually, there are rules. There is a list of rules that were made up a few years ago by Elmore Leonard. They consist of things like:
Show, don’t tell.
Every character should want something.
Don’t start with the weather.
But, this is writing, right? There are no rules. Some of the more successful writers have told the story, rather than ‘showing’ everything. And some of the best stories have begun with the weather.
Some authors write with no plan at all, and some plan out every scene before they start. Some authors are all about the three acts, some swear by the problem cycle. Some are all about character, and some will tell you that it’s sentence rhythm and structre that are the issue. Some will tell you that you need to do all sorts of writing courses and some tell you that you just need to write, write, and write and eventually it will be good.
It’s a bit like life, really. A few years ago I decided I wanted to get healthy. To lose weight and exercise. And because I play by the rules I wanted to know how much weight I should lose, how thin I should get. How I would know if I’d done enough. And the problem with that is, there are no rules.
The BMI is flawed, apparently, because it was made based on the weight and height of men in their 30s so it doesn’t really apply to me – a woman in my forties. The whole ‘thigh-gap’ thing will only work if you have a pelvis that is wide enough to allow you to have a thigh gap. Any other type of normal bone structure will mean that you cannot reach this standard of beauty. And then, all of the pictures in all of the magazines are photo shopped and I seem to have no idea what a healthy, natural, fit woman looks like.
And even how you do this fitness thing is tricky too. To you work out every day? Three times a week? Are mornings the only way to go? Or can you do your exercise in the evening (like I do) and it still be fine. Must we do weights? Must they be free weights? You see, all of those things are fine. They all work. There are no rules.
And then, like writing, like life, fitness just goes on and on. You don’t get fit and then move to the next level. You can’t say you’ve made it and have a holiday. Fitness is a lifestyle.
A rest-of-your-life lifestyle.
I like to think in a story book fashion. A ‘they all lived happily ever after’ mentality. In my ideal world I would like to get things right and then go on from there in some kind of paradise state where everyone is happy and peaceful and nothing ever goes wrong again.
But that is not life. And I have to admit that life would be pretty boring if it were. I don’t know what heaven will be like but I have an idea that even there we will be learning and growing – we won’t be in some kind of honey-sweet stasis. I am getting used to the idea of the journey of life – the ongoingness of it. I’m glad I’m not in charge of making the ideal life.
There are so many more areas of life that this applies to. Keeping house, working and finding a career, growing your family, relationships with friends. Nothing stays still and no rules can be made that will apply to every similar situation entirely. I guess we just need to grow in wisdom as we walk the journey. Learn to apply the rules that apply and drop the rules that don’t. And just keep walking the road.