Tuesday, December 21, 2010

For So Long

This month Brain, Child magazine printed my response to their Backtalk column. Which, although it's always great to see one's name in print, is not a big deal since they print everyone's response.
What stood out when reading the entries was not their cleverness and originality, but their length. Backtalk specifically asked readers to keep their responses to 100 words and in writing my piece, I had to edit and edit and edit again in order to reach the 100-word goal. Therefore it was evident to me with my story on the page next to the others, that lots of writers went over the 100-word limit.
My eight year old would have worried over the unfairness of this blatant disregard for rules but what bugged me was that I'd cut some of the funny details out of the piece - the ones that really made the story come alive.
The piece was about H and his Moby Dick obsession upon which I've already expounded numerous times in this space so I won't repeat it here - not even the uncut, and in my opinion, funnier version.
So the question is, do you break the rules for the sake of the piece; or do you follow the rules and edit the story even to its own perceived detriment?
And I think that that is the big question and that the answer is that it's the people who break the rules who reach the top. They become famous in that way that most of America wants to be famous. Nice guys don't necessarily finish last, but more likely somewhere in the middle. Because they are nice, they don't mind that much. It takes arrogance and chutzpah to succeed.
A truth that would definitely make the average eight year old shout, "not fair!"

song: For So Long • artist: Bee Gees

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