Last night I dreamed about bugs. Now, normally I'm not the squeamish kind, you kind of have to get over that if you're the bug slayer of the house when Dad isn't home. But dreams are different. Why? Because bugs don't follow the rules in dreams.
What are the rules? So nice of you to ask.
Bug rule number one: They die when you squish them.
Bug rule number two: They stay dead when you squish them.
Bug rule number three: They are always smaller than you. Period.
Bug rule number four: They aren't allowed to engage in active warfare. This means no ganging up on the humans with the intent to kill everyone. (I know some of you will contest this rule, but getting attacked by a swarm of killer bees is way different because bees--even though they make honey--and wasps and hornets are evil and therefore do not count as bugs. They count as EVIL. And those killer African driver ants that devour whole cows and occasionally people don't live by me, so they don't count either.)
Can you see why bugs that don't follow these rules would be bad? Yup, nightmare city. I spent the whole night trying to fend of swarms of resurrecting/zombie bugs who had it out for me. Shudder. There should be some serious consequences for bugs who break the rules.
But! It did make for an interesting, if freaky, night. Why? Because they did break the rules. This got me thinking about writing. Weird, huh?
We spend so much of our time as writers trying to jump through the hoops and follow all the little rules. Sometime it feels like everyone has a new list of rules: Use internal dialog. Don't use internal dialog. Add physical responses. Don't ever add physical responses. Let your character cry. Don't. Use first person. Use third person. Do the Hokey Pokey. Stab me in the eye! How is a writer supposed to write? It's like getting caught in a traffic jam with five hundred policemen all directing traffic a different way. How is a girl supposed to know who is right? Is anyone?
Somerset Maugham said: "There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." (Even traffic directing policemen. And no, Somerset didn't say that last part, that's all me.)
I think it all comes down to breaking the so called rules. Martine Leavitt told us at the WIFYR conference that we could break any rule we wanted--as long as we did it brilliantly. Last night the bugs did, they slaughtered every one of the rules. And they captivated me. Even after nearly a full day of wakefulness, my mind keeps returning to them and their bug rebellion.
Maybe it's time for our own rebellion. Maybe we shouldn't stay squished. Maybe we should write larger than life and let the bug spray fall where it may. How about you, are you ready to revolt? What rules are you going to break today?