Just step outside the box for a moment. There aren’t as many rules as you think there are.
A long time ago, I trained as a volunteer counsellor on a national telephone helpline…and this is what one of the trainers said to me. I’ve never forgotten it.
Mind you, I’ve never really known what to make of it either.
I mean, this organisation had more rules than boarding school. Don’t say’should’. Don’t say’you must’ as in ”you must feel awful…’. Don’t advise. Don’t sympathise. Don’t say”if I were you’. Paraphrase, reflect, never judge…and if you do get it wrong, they’ll probably jump and it’ll be all your fault. I didn’t last long.
Still, it made me think. What are my ‘rules’? Should I chuck some of them off the books?
One day I was hanging out at the shops with my mate – the two of us were about twelve at the time – and I greeted some elderly passerby, just out of random friendliness. “You can’t say hello to people you don’t know!” exclaimed my friend, shocked.
Oh? Can’t I? Ok. So I put that one down in Book of Rules for People Who Don’t Know What the Rules Are, and never did it again. See, people like me don’t know what the rules are: we need normal people to tell us. And they do!
The Man and I joke that we should own a reference book on What Normal People Think. Then, whenever we have an argument about what’s normal, we’ll just get the book down and go ‘oh yeah, it says here 99% of people get out of bed on the left side…ok, you win.’ Sadly, nobody’s written that book yet (but there’s still time…).
But sometimes, when I create, I find myself thinking, hang on a minute. Why shouldn’t I give this watercolour portrait of my favourite aunt snake hair and a witch’s hat? Why shouldn’t I make my romantic hero fat, or my heroine unlikeable, or my thriller introspective? Why shouldn’t I make up words and mix prose with poetry?
Well actually, I can do what I damn well like. I can make my own rules. I CAN learn French at 55, and eat breakfast with a hot water bottle under my jumper, and sing like a rock star while I’m making dinner. I can watch Outlander in bed, and stick pictures of my favourite hot actors on my bedroom wall. I can, finally, say hey to people I don’t know from Adam.
Do you set rules for yourself when you really don’t need to? What rules would YOU like to ditch?
Fallacious Rose writes a shit ton of books. You can find them here.