I am back to business, writing. Finishing up a year-long online class, while dipping my toes in something called Micropoetry, but doing it in my own fashion. A poem a day through the month of November. Although I can, and have done, my share of writing form poetry, I definitely have a rebellious streak, and enjoy engaging it, especially when writing. I have decided to define my postings as Stray Thoughts. No particular form, just an exploration of a thought in a conversational format.
Back in college (I attended when entering middle age), I repeatedly heard one rule in all of my Creative Writing classes: Writing is a discipline, there are rules and you must learn all of the rules. Only after first learning all those rules, by practicing them over and over again, may you break them.
Having a rebellious nature, I took that statement as a promise, not a caution. I set about learning the rules (at least most of them), but with one eye on that priceless promise that one day I could (and would) break them.
What can I say? I was already in my late thirties, newly divorced, with four children. I had a great deal of learning to do, and not a lot of time to do it in. Needless to say, it was an intense time period. But, I did learn a great deal, and far more than just the rules of a writing discipline.
For instance, I learned that my fellow students (most of whom were half my age), had a great deal to teach me. They knew that all work and no play makes for a very dull Jack or Jill. Play was a needed release from that intensity of focused learning. And learning how to play with others, is a necessary discipline of living life fully. But, there are rules to that as well. The desire for acceptance and belonging are built in, but can become dangerous if they become the primary goal and engender a loss of individuality. Conformity may look like unity, but in reality, it strips its membership of uniqueness. They, in turn, become susceptible to any false leadership, having given up their own right to determine an individual future.
So yes, I learned how to play, but also how to retain my right to go my own way, and even break the rules where and when it was necessary. Because of my age, my student friends often sought me out for leadership. Sometimes I accepted that role, other times I simply said, “I have to go home, make dinner for my kids, and then study for an exam.” Sometimes leadership is done through example. Not that I knew that at the time, I was still learning, and for me, learning was as much fun, as playing. In a very real sense, learning is playing. Playing with ideas.
So, I’m back in business. I’m writing, doing it in my own way. Do you ever break the rules? How and when?
Note: Image is a pen and ink doodle that always makes me think of how individuality can cuddle up next to conformity and form a better, sometimes even, more pleasing image.
I love thinking of you as a student, starting a new life as a single mom……..that time of my life liberated me as well. I always love reading you, my friend.
Sounds as if you are rising to the challenge with confidence – great! I have always had huge admiration for those who go to college or university later in life – I’m sure you get far more out of it even though in many ways it must be much tougher. Grist to your mil!
Oh, and I love your doodle.
A most enjoyable post, Elizabeth. I must say that I have only recently started to break the rules. I am following blogger Diana Peach’s example.