Art is the self-actualized level of expression. As Artists, writers must stand up for what they believe, and not apologize for their preferences in mode of communication.
One testament to the true nature of Writing as an Art (not a craft), is the existence within its ranks of a fifth column, called the avant-garde. This group advocates artistic Darwinism: whatever is newest is deemed to be the best, because it’s presumed to have been built upon the ruins of discarded forms and outmoded beliefs. Many online writing gurus are of the avant-garde school of thought.
Such a disdain for tradition is not found among the producers of Craft. Craftworkers also develop innovative designs from new materials, but they universally revere their roots. (My first creative career was as a “published” craftworker – which means that I was paid for my patterns, by the magazines that published them – so I know whereof I speak.)
Are there any books out there that celebrate and promote traditional writing styles? (I didn’t think so.)
There also appears to be an unwritten edict that artistic rules may not be articulated by anyone but the avant-garde. This is how it works: They develop a new theory about Art, and then proceed to dictate the attributes of products permitted to become available, and the attitudes that one must adopt about them, in order for one to be considered knowledgeable and fashionable. Those who disagree with such dogmata risk being branded as boors and barbarians: incapable of appreciating Art, never mind creating anything genuinely artistic.
The avant-garde is especially active within the Art of Creative Writing. There’s a passel of persons online, many of whom self-identify as agents or editors, all doling out advice on how to “improve” our fiction. Most of the rules these gurus cite are of the “do it this way, or you won’t get an agent or a publisher” ilk. Although the intention to seek a traditional publication contract may well be a valid goal for some writers, enthusiastic professional support for Indie authors, while not non-existent, is rather thin on the ground.
Granted, there’s a lot of drivel and dreck out there that ought not to see the light of day, never mind its seeing a slush pile. But beyond its communicating a threat that can easily undermine writers’ self-confidence, most current guru writing advice is based on personal stylistic preference – not on the relatively few aspects of writing that genuinely affect the effectiveness of our Art as a means of expression. This also holds true for software-based writing advice: Even Hemingway’s writing fails to make the grade, when evaluated by the “Hemingway App” editor.
I experienced so much enjoyment in my writing of Irish Firebrands that I’ve become concerned about the poor self-confidence, insecurity and downright misery I’ve seen, stemming from other writers’ frustration about trying to make their work conform with avant-garde-prescribed minutiae. As a retired Registered Nurse, I strongly believe that writing should be therapeutic: a means of relieving suffering in both its producer and its consumer. If we’re not having fun doing it, we’re not doing it right.
This concern led to my codifying The 7 Reasonable Rules of Writing.*
Sufficient correct punctuation for signage on the path to meaning.
Understanding of literary conventions.
Love for language and loyalty to its complete lexicon.
Writing by inspiration, rather than controlling the performance of the tale.
We’ll examine each of these rules over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!