Isn't this a great tattoo design by RageFish21 on DeviantArt? He has some awesome drawings over there. You should check him out when you get a chance.
I titled this post "Rules and the Craft" because it applies in so many situations. The craft could be genealogy, it could be writing, art, music, knitting or crochet, or your hobby of choice. Every St. Patrick's Day, I think about the Irish (not the least because my grandmother believed she was Irish) not because of drinking crappy beer and dressing in green, but because the Irish are a longstanding symbol of rebellion and spirit in the face of untenable circumstances.
This year I have been thinking of rebellion more often because it seems like there are rules for everything. Rules for how to write (not grammar, but more like "do this" type things), rules for storytelling, rules for how to knit or crochet, rules for how to use Facebook to not become a depressed maniac, etc. At a certain point, it seems like we live our life within a set of bars and its disturbing how many people just live with that.
Listening to my favorite album of late by Sia, her song "Elastic Heart" expresses this feeling rather well. Two selves fight each other within her psyche, going in and out of the cage.
This article and this article have be going around Facebook lately as well as oodles of "instructional" help for everything from how to do one's makeup to how to write a book.
Everytime I see the posts about how to write a book, I think about how Ernest Hemingway would have reacted to someone telling HIM how to write. Or that he needs to focus on blog headlines. Did he need to follow a series of prompts to write his work? I don't think so.
That's why I write how I write. It's my decision how to write this blog. When I write patterns, I try to be clear and give as much information as possible. When I'm on my blog, when I'm telling a story, I speak in my voice and tell the most organized story that I can. Part of learning to write is to learn that our voice is okay even if we use too many dashes and commas and use the word AND too often. Worrying about all these "rules" leads to a horrible situation: the tyranny of the blank page, the empty needles, the hook without yarn.
Do you know what my rules for writing are?
1. Start writing.
2. Do it often.
3. Don't tell other people "you're doing it wrong".
And the same thing applies in just about any other craft. There's some guidelines to live between (grammar, stitch names, spelling, paint types) but we should feel more free to do as we can. When you think about how many human beings that are in the world and the unique talents that each of them has, we can let these "rules" go and start enjoying our given talents rather than beating ourselves up about them. There are so many people I know who like to write but are paralyzed with fear because someone told them they should work on their sentence structure or word choice and all they can think about is the "rules" rather than what they want to tell.
To bring this back to the opening, St. Patrick is a great example. His legend is banishing the snakes from Ireland while on a fast. He wasn't thinking about how to kill them, he wasn't thinking about all the rules of snake management or who should be taking care of the problem. He saw a problem, he rebelled against it, and the Irish gave him love in return. That's what it comes down to: you will get a good response from someone somewhere, so you should give your craft of choice a shot! Be a rebel. Start doing something today!