David Hines recently recommended a book called Meditations on Violence: a Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence, and of course I snapped it up.
I’ve barely started it, but one of the early points the author makes is that too many people are willing to discount their own personal experience because it does not jibe with what a self-appointed expert tells them. One of the author’s fellow prison guards, a man who had a great deal of practical experience in fighting, did exactly this during a class of martial arts techniques.
My first reaction was: People don’t really do this, do th– And then I thought about Absolute Write.
The AW forums have see a regular traffic of newbie writers asking permission to do the most basic things. “Can I have an protagonist do unlikable things?” “Can I have an unhappy ending?” “Can I write this book in third-person present tense?” “Can I write a love story where the couple breaks up at the end?”
Frankly, that stuff drove me crazy. I wanted to say “Pick up a book! Read it! Does it work? Can you make it work? Why are you asking permission?”
And it would turn out that some person on some message board somewhere said books need happy endings, or maybe an agent wrote a blog post expressing their personal dislike of present tense. And none of that should dictate what a person can or should do.
Of course, the hard part in all of this is examining my own assumptions.
As an aside: today is the first day all week that I hit my daily word count goal. Yeesh. Tomorrow will be better, I hope.