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  • Writer's pictureLee Murray

Rules or rogue?

Are you a rule follower or a rule breaker? Do you create your own rules and follow them, or go completely rogue? What about with life in general?

This question is lifted from author Sahar Sabati's informative Ask an Author series, which ran from 2015-2016 and included responses and reflections from English-speaking authors from around the globe. Since I'm often asked these questions by readers, I have republished my answers here with Sahar's kind permission.

Many years ago, when I was living in France, I joined a group of international students taking a language and cultural course where we studied, among other things, Jean Anouilh’s version of Antigone. Of course, one of the questions lecturers pose when you study Antigone is whose position would you take and why? Of all my classmates, I was the only one who chose Creon’s position over Antigone’s. So rules over rogue. I still ask myself why that was. Perhaps it’s because I’m the eldest child of four, and so I was always expected to set an example for my younger siblings, to take care of them and be the responsible one. Or maybe it was because I was a bit of a swot at school, regularly getting myself elected as the class councillor or school prefect. Perhaps I took that stance because I’m half Chinese, a culture in which femininity is closely associated with selflessness and duty to family. So yes, in the same way, I think my writing tends to stick to the rules, at least at the technical nuts and bolts level. I don’t mind pantsing a story, but I like the grammar and punctuation to be correct. I like there to be a consistency in style and voice. Accomplished, experienced, out-of-the-box writers can afford to break the rules. Until I’m one of those, I prefer to be disciplined. And in my real life? Well, sometimes the free-spirited Kiwi side of me wins out, so overall I believe my life is a balance of free will and sticking to rules.


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