Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Buck Stops Here

Without warning, on the day I turned 50 years old, I began to write sonnets.

Sonnets have a great advantage over other forms of writing: they are strict. Despite the small freedom of variation in the rhyme schemes, they present a steady wall of rules.

Many people object to rules of writing, but I appreciate them. For the most part, I write short stories, and as H. E. Bates has pointed out, "The basis of almost every argument or conclusion I can make is the axiom that the short story can be anything the author decides it shall be." The drawback of this freedom is the subsequent inability to know if a story has been sufficiently well-crafted to communicate with readers. I worry about this, because my stories are self-published, and all responsibility for their clarity or vagueness must lie with me alone. As Truman would say, "The buck stops here." If my stories fall apart, the fault is mine.

My sonnets, on the other hand, follow tradition. At the end of the day, I might not be certain about the constantly-shifting ones and zeroes of the stories filed away on my hard-drive, but I do know that a sonnet can be nothing else.

I need that certainty. There it is.

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