It takes a tremendous amount of time learning a task, and attacking it from different angles in order to perfect the job. People do not begin with the perfect set of skills, they are learned over time. No matter what the skill is it needs to be a learned behavior, through multiple repetitious follow ups. Once the rules are known, and the mastery achieved, then, and only then, my the rules be broken.
Presently, the breaking of rules seeps in, raised above my head, and shakes its fist as representation of my arch enemy. Breaking into writing for the reading audience is much more difficult than it appears. Academic writing requires a specialized vernacular, structure, and focus. These skills I’ve mastered over my academic career, with a certain amount of success. However, writing for a novel breaks most of the structured rules of academic writing, which is in direct contrast with my rehearsed muscle memory of writing. Using slang (a no, no in academic form), deliberately committing the felonious run-on or fragmenting (on purpose for goodness sakes), oh and the kicker of all mother load rules to break… using the contraction or starting a sentence with a conjunction. Better turn now and rinse your mouth out with soap for that crime.
This brings me to the dilemmas of the day, as I progress on my own infancy of novel writing. I am learning to use new muscles. Understanding the masses and their delicate palate for reading certain works and genres is the key to success of a work. Obviously, the word choices and plot developments depend on the fundamental comprehension of these big issues. So, here I sit in my infancy, still dependent on my own readings, suggestions from beta groups, and handing my work over to professionals for a needle ripping tear apart and suggestions for reworking things. However, to build oneself within a new task requires the research, repetition, and revisions necessary to breathe a work to life successfully.
For the record this is an easy concept to preach to students or one’s own offspring. Teaching kids how to learn the academic rules of writing for their next AP, IB, SAT, ACT or other standardized test is easy when you are the guide and cheerleader. Conveying the importance of learning all aspects of your sport including maintenance and respect for the venues build the character of the athlete, along with those long hard hours of physical and mental exhaustion practicing and playing on the field or court. So, here I go, breaking the rules, ready to prepare my own field for this new style and taking the ups and downs with a grain of salt!