Rules, Shmules

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The late George Carlin had this routine that used to be really popular, called the Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television. I never found it to be an especially funny bit, but I did kinda like the rebelliousness of this guy telling me that there are certain words you can’t say—then rattling them off like a machine gun.

I liked it because he was tearing down an arbitrary rule that some people had just made up. They made up these rules, and they expect me to follow them—just because I wasn’t fast enough to make up my own first.

I’ve gotten into a lot of trouble over the course of my life because I tend to question rules. I defy them. Like a five year old. Tell me not to touch that—I’m touchin’ the crap out of it.

YA Author Tom Hoover on Stupid RulesI’ve paid the price for disrespecting rules—been slapped, spanked, punched, fined, fired … the list goes on. I don’t want white wine with chicken when I’m in the mood for red, Emily Post!

The same goes for writing. If I think the best way to get my point across is to use an adverb, I’m using the damn adverb. He said defiantly. Don’t care that Stephen King says I shouldn’t—he never returns my calls anyway. Don’t care that old Sister What’s-Her-Name who taught 4th grade is turning over in her grave looking for a rule to bash my knuckles with. Note the preposition at the end of that sentence—I spit on these rules.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate all rules—I’m not an anarchist. There are a lot of good rules. For instance, don’t kill people … that’s a great rule. It protects me and the idiot in front of me in the grocery store checkout line.

Don’t take other people’s stuff is another exceptional rule. Kudos. I like my stuff, and if ever there comes a time I don’t, I’ll give it to you. You don’t have to take it. I’ll even wrap it—that’s just how I roll.

You know how you can tell the good rules from the stupid made-up ones—assuming you haven’t read this blog? Of course, if you’re not reading this blog, then why am I talking to you?

Sorry. Digressing.

But you know how you can tell? There’s police and laws and courts and stuff. There’s even citizen’s arrests.

Besides Sister What’s-Her-Name, and a couple really disturbed writers who I’ve met over the years, you know who’s the adverb police?

Nobody. I yell it loudly. Defiantly. Repetitively redundantly.

It’s a preference. A made-up rule.

And don’t even get me started on dialog tags. At least not until the next blog.

For those keeping score, we call this a rant.

Everybody likes a good rant. One of the strengths of the TV show, Community, in its funny seasons, was the main character’s rants.

I could have been on Community.

I just said seven words too many.

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