Do you ever just wish you could stop following all the rules?
I know I do. I see other people doing it. In the carpool lane when it’s obvious there’s a faster way than the long line of cars leading to the proper exit. Just make a left instead of a right. You’ll get out a lot faster.
Forget the rules.
Who’s gonna care?
Ah, but I’m a rule follower. It’s about honesty in my opinion. There are no shortcuts. No legal ones, anyway. No honest ones.
It’s like that in my writing as well. If I’m writing a haiku, it’s going to have the proper number of syllables in each line. I know even haiku master Matsuo Basho said if it’s better with the wrong number of syllables, it’s better to write it that way, but I’d rather write and rewrite and rethink and restructure until I’m happy with it. Because I have to follow the rules.
I was considering entering a poetry contest with some of my villanelles. (I’m that pleased with how they’re coming out.) This contest had a section for traditional rhyming poetry, something few editors have an appreciation for. I was encouraged, so I looked up some of their past winners. One of them was a “villanelle”. I pulled it up and read it.
It broke all the rules.
There were no rhymes where there were supposed to be rhymes.
There were no repeated lines or even words.
It was written in paragraph form.
What’s the fun of that? It’s like writing a short story and calling it a haiku. There’s no challenge. I remember my father saying something that has stuck with me for most of my life, “You can call it whatever you want, it doesn’t make it that.”
Hey judges, it’s not a villanelle if it doesn’t follow the rules.
I’m going to keep plugging along writing my haiku and villanelles and following rules. I have no idea why. I could break the rules and write a paragraph and call it a villanelle. I could write a novel and call it a haiku. I might even win some contests that way. But I won’t.
It’s just that I’m a rule follower.
Villanelle #21 Just make a left instead of right! It'll get you there much faster, and your schedule's really tight. Nobody's gonna care if you take flight and look for a greener pasture. Just make a left instead of a right. I don't mean to make light; I'm certainly not your master, and your schedule's really tight No one can really know your plight. It can't possibly lead to disaster if you make a left instead of a right Rules are not always right. They're not molded in plaster, and your schedule's really tight. Perhaps you'll never feel Karma's bite graze rear skin of alabaster. Just make a left instead of a right— after all, your schedule's really tight. —Michelle Garren-Flye