Thinking inside the box

11 04 2012

Antique Baby Shoes, by Linda Apple

In praise of the challenge of rules

Every day she made the bed. She was happy to do that, or most anything else, for him. Crisp sheets pulled up tight, warm blankets tucked around, pillows plumped up, and the spread with its delicate pink flowers drawn up over it, every wrinkle smoothed out. Only today, she found the letter while she was making up the bed. She did not finish. There was no need.

Six sentence stories: They make for an interesting challenge. I was intrigued when I read Annette Bowman’s invitation to submit to her blog, and I came up with a couple. Here’s the link.

One hears about artistic freedom, and how one needs to be able to follow one’s impulses and explore where they lead, unrestricted by stifling rules. There’s merit to that. However, a total lack of rules is like an empty void; one’s creativity fills the space, undifferentiated, like air sucked into a vacuum. Rules provide structure, a vase for the flowers, a frame for the canvas, a shape to fill with color and texture. The classic example is the sonnet, a rigid poetic formula exploited brilliantly by writers in the past.

Another classic is Hemingway’s 6 word story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Annette Bowman gives us the luxury of six whole sentences in which to tell a story. See what you can come up with, and share it with Annette.


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