Playin' Around (Holly Schindler)
“I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.”--Kurt Vonnegut
This might be one of my favorite literary quotes of all time, from one of my favorite authors.
I didn't always like Vonnegut. In fact, he drove me nuts when I was in grad school. We were assigned Breakfast of Champions, and the book just annoyed me. At one point, Vonnegut says, "I am writing a very bad book," right in the middle of the thing, and I scribbled in the margin, "YUP!!!!!"
Or, you know, something along those lines.
The thing is, though, I was a pretty--well--humorless thing, in my early twenties. I liked things that were literary and high-brow and I didn't have time for guilty pleasures. I was serious and driven and...
Well. You get the idea.
These days? One of my biggest allergies is to taking oneself too seriously. I love meandering walks and comedies. I'd rather eat milkshakes and French fries over anything fancy-pants. I do not trust people who don't like dog kisses (seriously, who was that girl I used to be????)
The thing is, you can't expect a really great book to follow all the pre-established rules. You've got to experiment. Let certain plot points take meandering detours away from the original plan. Try new POVs. New narrative techniques. You've got to, in short fart around.
You just plain can't take your work too seriously. Play is the thing.
Years after grad school, I saw a short video of Vonnegut discussing story shapes and decided to revisit his work. I re-read Breakfast of Champions.
And I loved it.
Holly Schindler is a critically acclaimed author of books for readers of all ages. Her first MG, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, recently re-released. A corresponding activity book is also available. Check HollySchindler.com for details.