Writing. Ahhh, the crackle and crock of rules.
Where the adverbs don’t get ya, the GIFs will. All the never-able-to-pause time after time after time. Like a pre-2016 Cubs World Series, the fans can still play the blues in Chicago, and baseball can self-examine on as many repeating, freezing-frame videos as should never exist…
but it’s TRUE, Joe! So whatcha gonna do?
And what (really) are any such unsolicited uploads showing us anyway?
Time-worn advice #1: “Write what you know!”
A phrase that once had meaning, the evidence now suggests that showing is what most literistas are knowing.
Very few “mature” writers know time-worn, so I’ll raise my hand every time it comes up and hope not to complain about the Tunnel Over The River Carpal. Rules? In a court of law, they’re already over-ruled. Anywhere else, they’re fully overdone and the last literary garage for scoundrels needing a place to park before dealing with the age of pre-FaceTime selfies.
On-the-way-to-being-time-worn advice #2: “Show, don’t tell!”
I honestly can’t recall how many writers’ exercises and blog posts have focused on this well-meaning touchstone without mentioning its devolvement into poorly justified “shows and tells” as useless as they are clever-less. There’ve been quite a few, ir-re-gard-less! If 300 words about a favorite pet or important social concept now demand more dpi than the visible text, that’s when I imagine reaching for well-hidden and loaded revolvers. Giving one’s best written shot is more about the aim than about the target. In 1966, Charles Whitman demonstrated this from the UT Tower and, today, I doubt that entire squads of shouting, gun-waving Second Amendment’ers—insane or not—are any match for one sharp-eyed sniper who doesn’t waste time describing the bullets.
(Wait. Bullets? Weren’t we talking about words here?
Write what you know? Show, don’t tell?)
Candidate-for-next-time-worn advice #3: “Kill your darlings!”
It can be fun. Very fun, in fact. Liberating, even. It can also keep you from realizing they were probably never your friends to begin with. You blew up MySpace, remember? Or you just started ignoring it like you did all your so-called friends, leaving it rotting in the hell-raisin sun? Sure. I’ll let y’all figger dis shit out on your F’book ownz, ese.
We’ve all seen cats. And dogs. And selfishisms. And music videos. And political diatribes. And parades of mobile devices following scenes of police vs protestors. And promoted tweets. And friend requests. And social media this. And social media that. And trolls and rolls of thyroidian reactive psychosis. And boils and bubblings of covens to the left, nazis to the right, clowns above, jokers below, times a’changin’, chimes a’ragin’, bells a’ringin’, feces a’flingin’. And forever, and virtual forever, and time-lined, and snap-chattered, and terrorized, and terrible white spaces between jumps to reticulate paragraphs, and Artificial Intelligence, and one more hungry cat chasing whatever it can for the camera… amen.
But there are rules. Aren’t there?
And there are inspirational vacuums. Aren’t there?
There are monsters over the bed, heavens become hells, gods become devils, devils become gods, become rules, become runts.
“All in a midnight dreaming,” said one hobo’s voice.
And all on the Cubs leaving the field, watching the last fans disappear, all of them thinking, “Next year. There’s always next year.”
Without pain there is nothing.
With contemporary literary rules, even less.
7000 ding dang dead darlings in full dystopianist disarray?
Yes, Mr. DeMille.
New Dark Ages will welcome every clown’s closeup.