Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Grace of Rules

by Bethany Maines

I was all set to write a post today about authors who have influenced me and then I opened the internet and poked around. I shouldn’t do that; twenty minutes of internet time and suddenly I know too much about what people I don’t know are wearing to events I don’t care about.  But I also read two things that altered the topic of today’s blog. One was the facebook post of an alcoholic celebrating another year sober, and the other was a blog post about the rules of mystery writing. The most immediate response to the alcoholic was along the lines of “Thank you for sharing your struggle; it helps me.” The first comment on the writer’s post was “I don’t really like rules and my novels turn out fine.” 

And on one hand, I totally agree with that commenter. I also don’t like rules. I don’t like being told what to do. I don’t like having solutions dictated to me. Nobody is the boss of me, but me. So there. Nyah! (Sticks tongue out.)

You know what I do like though? Novels that make sense. And although I tried for years to just wing it, that doesn’t lead to novels with consistent internal logic, or, as is otherwise known, a plot. It’s also extremely inefficient. And with a dog, a kid, a husband, friends and an extended family who all prefer to see me occasionally, I do not have time to be wandering through the morass of plot lines. So eventually I gave up and laid down a few ground rules for myself.  And since I am the boss of me, I figure that’s ok.

But while I’m sympathetic to the rules are for sissies commenter, I must admit that it seemed like she could have used some of the grace that the alcoholic referred to in her post. She spoke of not understanding how there could possibly be a solution for her, but sometimes just showing up and following instructions is enough to get you through to the next day. She spoke of the great support of knowing that other people had similar struggles to her own. Writing a novel and alcoholism are not at all the same. But the idea that sometimes a set of instructions, a little community spirit, and grace can get you through to tomorrow is pretty universal. Thank you all for sharing my writing struggles and for your gracious comments!

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, Tales from the City of Destiny and An Unseen Current.  You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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