Monday, August 9, 2010

Writing badly on purpose

I'm all for proper grammar and spelling in most instances of literature. I don't like it when people don't bother with apostrophes or full stops because they can't be fucked or when they don't even notice that they're supposed to be there. But I'm a bit of a two-faced bastard because I love playing around with conventional notions of spelling, grammar and syntax. Oh my god beginning a sentence with And or But? Preposterous! Capitalising letters in the middle of a sentence? Ridiculous! Usually there's some sort of motive for the crime. Like drawing attention to a particular character, or portraying a particular narratorial voice. Like the one I'm using here, I like to put full stops in the middle of sentences to break up the phrases to appear more conversational. I do that a lot with my short fiction too. I like it.

The last exercise I've taken up started out as a stream-of-consciousness piece that was meant to be autobiographical but then sort of turned into a second person perspectival piece about something altogether different. But there's still that stream-of-consciousness feel of thoughts simply spilling out onto the floor and running into eachother and milling about pointlessly like no one really communicates this way but it's the best way to get everything onto the page. What's a comma? What's an apostrophe? I can leave the last full stop a kilometre behind without batting an eyelid. One word to describe it would be liberating. Another word would be self-destructive. I look at the clusterfuck of words on the page and wonder how many people would string all these thoughts together and follow this narrative of a stream-of-conscious that is sort of like an out-of-body mind directly addressing you. Would people enjoy something like that? Would they drink fine wine and nibble on exotic cheeses and mutter "mmm, quite, that S.T. Cartleford gent is quite the literary marksman"? Or am I going to be one of those guys that becomes famous once I'm dead? Probably neither, but it's fun to screw around with words knowing that I can take pride in having written something that could potentially cause headaches to those who read it.

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