Writing Without Rules by Jeff Somers
The Unabridged Review
I am a writer. I worry that I am actually too insane for my craft, over the top, off my rocker, a few short of a six pack, should possibly be locked up. Then I stumbled across Jeff Somers and his lovely tome, Writing Without Rules. I had read some of his fiction. I love his books, especially We Are Not Good People and The Electric Church,. Jeff is doing something right.
I thought, self, Writing Without Rules will tell me all the secrets to making a life as a writer. After all, Jeff snagged an incredible agent, the Queen of the Known Universe, herself, Janet Reid. He had to know something I didn’t know about being a “successful” writer. Right?
Well, shit. No. He’s crazier than I am and he doesn’t wear pants and he has an entire murder full of cats. Yes, I know, crows. A murder is crows. Have you met Jeff’s cats? They are definitely planning to murder someone. I can tell from the pictures of them he tweets out.
Apparently, the secret to writing is there aren’t any rules. Neil Gaiman managed to point this out in his rule #8 which is the only rule, but like 42 is the answer, Neil named the one rule #8.
Not to be outdone, Jeff wrote an entire book with lots and lots of footnotes to make the same point as rule #8. I am so very glad he did. I LOVE this book.
However, I am not quite certain why his agent didn’t tear him limb from limb after reading the first few chapters. How much whisky did he have to buy my queen to get this past her? He did everything she tells us rodent wheel spinning writers not to do. He submitted a first draft, totally unrevised, riddled with grammatical errors out to publishers. And one offered to buy the damn thing. And that is something we are told to never, ever do. And you shouldn’t unless you’re Jeff Somers and not wearing any pants.
Then there are the footnotes. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman would be proud – they are so funny…but so wrong.
I read this book in about three hours. I could not put it down. I laughed so hard that the stick that’s been up my ass the last six months came loose. My writing productivity increased 100 fold. I can’t say why. I mean there is nothing brilliant in this book. It’s almost a parody of a writing craft book.
Perhaps, it is because Jeff’s book is so much easier to stomach than something like Stephen King’s On Writing. Don’t get me wrong, Stephen had me slaughtering my darlings and writing a million words before submitting anything for publication, bless his little heart. It is no wonder there are so many monsters living in Maine with all that darling killing going on. I am not taking away from the giants that came before.
Jeff’s book, however, slowed down that proverbial rodent wheel that had me worrying that I was doing everything wrong. Three years ago I queried a book that was not quite ready for submission. And for about a year, I thought I had burned my chances at ever being published. Turns out, these kind of premature ejaculations don’t matter much. It’s simply part of the journey. Is there more whisky?
Jeff does not precisely advise writers to disregard all the guidelines for getting published. Nah, nothing like that. Simply put, the path to making it as a writer is different for everyone and there are no set rules as long as you have an ending for whatever bit of writing you wish to publish. Endings are important. Jeff was quite specific on that point. Which is why this review is over. It had to end somewhere. So if you’re writer, buy this book or Jeff will mail you one of his cats.
And nobody wants that. Also, this is hands down, the most fun I have ever had reading a book about writing. And Kill The Cat was a damn party of a book.