More on Rules

Have you ever thought about how the rules define the game?

Imagine if soccer didn't have an offside rule. Or if a goal scored from outside the box counted for two points.

American football fans have been watching their game evolve for years. An example: rules got put in place to protect the quarterback and receivers, and the passing game has risen in importance. This is not mere coincidence.

Change the rules, change the game.

During the winter, I worked with a couple of different approaches to zero drafts, and watched the writing change as a result. Now I've made a rule to publish something every day.

Beyond the obvious, I'm not sure what changes in my writing it's bringing with it. I feel like I'm seeing some, but I can't yet put my finger on what they are.

I'm seeing questions arise: "What is the story I'm telling. And why?" Also this: "In this medium, what is the thread between yesterday's post and today's? Between today's and tomorrow's?"

I don't know the answers yet. For now, it's enough that I'm starting to see the questions.

Thinking more about rules: have you noticed how attached people become to certain rules? How much they hate changing the rules? You'd think the rules came down from the mountaintop on stone tablets given by God. People: we invented the rules. We can change them.

I live in Colorado and recently we decided to change the rule about marijuana being illegal. Now you can grow it and buy it and use it and, most importantly, experiment with it (as a substance and as a product). Still people are shrieking, "It's a gateway drug! What about the children!" They just hate letting go of the old rules.

In the meantime, some of what we are seeing appears obvious: tax revenues instead of tax expenditures. A proliferation of retail stores. (You will not see me write, "Retail stores are sprouting up like weeds.") No more arrests for simple possession.

And some of it is not so obvious: new ways of using it. Joints, bongs and pot brownies seem almost medieval compared to what people are learning to do with the stuff. Now there are concentrates and tinctures and salves. People who never thought they'd use marijuana in any form get lotions infused with it and rub it on their creaky knees and ankles and report that the pain goes away, with no intoxicating side effects.

New ancillary industries are coming into being as well, as people with a little vision and the sense that this is uncharted territory go out exploring, feeling finally that they can safely do so.

Change the rules, change the game.

And not all changes will be obvious ahead of time.

To experiment within new rules requires being able to be wrong.

Today is the fifth day I've published under these new rules. I'm not sure what I'm doing. But I'm believing that what I learn by doing it will ultimately be valuable, and for now that's enough.

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