Saturday, November 06, 2010

Whatever works

My publisher’s often wondered where I get my ideas from.

In fact, it’s pretty simple. There’s a proof I once read in a popular book about mathematics, that shows that the set of integers is infinite. It basically says to just create a number that is different from every other number in at least one of its digits. You can always do this, therefore the set is infinite, as is the set of mathematicians spinning in their graves at this ridiculous oversimplification.

Stories are the same way. No, I’m not going to tell you how because this isn’t a post about originality but about rules and how not to follow them.

I took a writing class, once. I don’t remember anything about it. My high school English classes had a little more success, at least I have the basics of grammar and stuff down. But I think that’s because I read a lot, so I got a lot of practice. When I started writing, I didn’t model myself on anybody, or follow a book of style. I wrote to please me, and to get the story down on the paper in just the way it was flowing in my head. Dialog, actions, thoughts, all mixed up in a kettle and stirred around a bit because that’s what people do. Well, it’s what the people in my books do. They think while they talk and they move while they think.

So if you’re thinking that at some point I’ll try to give you some rules for writing, don’t. I have some idea of what I’m doing, yes, because I pay attention, but I also know better than to think that what works for me is going to work for anyone who isn’t me. I once wrote a dark and dismal poem using limericks. This was during the writing class I don’t remember.

I do have a rule about writing, more of a guiding principle, really, since rules are usually about doing some thing some way. My guiding principle is about doing the same thing some other way. “If you’ve seen it done before, don’t do it again.” Note that this is directly opposed to almost all rules. It makes editing my books a bit of a trial for my publisher, that’s for sure. Not even my punctuation is safe.

I hope you’ll click on one of those links over there and tell me well you think I did.

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