Christine Brooke-Rose died this week, and with her passing the writing world is diminished greatly.
Much like William S. Burroughs and R.D. Laing, Brooke-Rose was what some have called an "experimental writer." That means she would use words in very specific ways. She would not just write a story, but set certain boundaries for the ways in which she would tell her stories, limiting the words she could use.
This type of writing seems outdated today. So many writers I know are solely focused on telling stories. Crafting characters and plots; building tension, suspense or equally compelling feelings or woe. And for most writers I have spoken with what surpasses everything when it comes to writing a book is selling it.
No, I am not here to tell you that selling a book is not as important as writing it, although I believe that's the truth. I am trying to tell you that words are meant for more than simply telling a story. Words are like numbers. We put them together to build sentences; we take them apart to deconstruct thoughts and actions; we multiply them to create novels.
But when was the last time you experimented with them? When was the last time you wrote a story backwards; Wrote a story, printed it out, then cut every individual word out and re-pasted them in a completely different order? When was the last time you wrote your story in a geometric shape?
When was the last time you did something with your writing besides 'writing?'
If you never experiment, never reach outside yourself and try new things, different things that no one has ever done or something everyone has done in ways which are new or different, you will never really experience new thoughts and ideas. That's the truth. You can write dozens of new stories, create hundreds of new characters, weave a spell of story which has never been revealed before, and yet never truly do anything new.
Do something outrageous. Do something weird, different and out of the ordinary. Words are more than just a way to tell a story. Each word is a story unto itself. Each word has power. Use words in ways no one has ever done before and unleash that power for yourself.
You might just surprise yourself. You'll definitely surprise everyone else.