I am one of those people that likes to follow the rules. Pretty much all the rules – all the time. I take rule following to a ridiculous level that annoys the hell out of many people that associate with me. I’m lucky they like me enough to let it go, but seriously, the term rule-bound was invented just to describe me. I abhor being late to anything – in fact, if I’m not at least fifteen minutes early, that qualifies as late. I always put the shopping cart away in a parking lot. I never miss a deadline of any sort. I don’ ride a bicycle much, but if I did, I would wear my bike helmet, use the correct turn signals, and never ride through a stop sign or light even if no one else were coming. I wait for the walk sign even when the street is empty. You get the point.
This came up for me today because I was about to sit down and work on another writing prompt from Old Friend from Far Away. The prompt was ‘Give me a memory of the color red…’ I read the prompt and an example the author provided. I was to describe a memory of red, without using the word red. I pulled up a new post and titled it, ready to sit down and see what I could crank out in ten minutes. Nothing… More nothing… Even more nothing… It seems the color red triggers absolutely zilch in my brain. After staring at my screen for a few minutes, I thought to myself – well, maybe I should just skip this one. Then the rule-follower in me screamed, “No! What are you thinking? You have to do every exercise in this book! And you have to do them in order!” So I got up and went outside for a cup of coffee and a cigarette. This is a tactic that often works for me when I need to mull something over in my head for a bit. Not this time. I came back, sat down, and stared some more. The only thing that came to mind was an apple, and I don’t feel like writing about apples at all. I have no interesting stories that involve apples. Grapes, maybe, but apples? No.
So, I am taking a leap here – I’m going to break the rules. I’m not going to come up with a memory of the color red for today’s writing prompt. I’m going to skip it – at least for now – and see how I feel about the next prompt, which is “Give me a memory of a sound…” This one I think may come a little easier. If someday, the color red sparks something in my mind, maybe I’ll come back to it, but I’m going to try to force myself NOT to write about things that don’t spark anything for me just because I normally feel I need to do every single exercise in front of me. We’ll see how well that works out. I didn’t go to Catholic school in the days where a nun could whack you on the knuckles with a ruler if you disobeyed – but, I think my inner rule-follower was one of those nuns, and she retired into my brain in order to keep me in line. I may have a real battle on my hands, here, but I’m giving it a shot. Wish me luck.