I read this in a blog on Indi writing: “An italicized word here and there for emphasis – that has become more common because of eBook formatting – which doesn’t allow for all capitals or underlines. So that’s absolutely acceptable. I’m more talking about people who use italics for thoughts – then write entire paragraphs of them.”
At first sight this seems reasonable, it was part of piece on the ten most common writing mistakes. It’s badly written by a person purporting to be an arbiter of standards. But that’s not what irked me.
This started me thinking about the whole ‘creative writing class’ mentality that has become almost a doctrine. We accept stuff like the above too easily.
No, no, no. I hate homogenised formulaic stuff. Be it bland industrialised hydrogenised fats playing at being cheese squeezed from mass-market tubes or perfectly edited, standard usage, poetry free, mass produced, creative writing class approved, dirge and pap passing for literature.
Would Joyce get anything past these gatekeepers of conformity? I think not. How many other rule breakers and original voices would be drowned out by the howling of the conformity freaks. Yes, be all means let us strive for good grammar and correct spelling but let’s not get carried away and allow personal taste to get confused with correctness.
The example I opened with is a case in point. If I’m reading an enthralling story, well written, full of humanity, warmth and poetry – I will not care if a bit of internal dialogue is rendered in italic for one or two or three paragraphs. I’ll not notice if the voice is real and true and involving. Nor will most readers. Nor should we.
The laying down of arbitrary rules of taste is to be resisted by all of us who love literature, both as readers and as writers. If someone wants bland formula driven sustenance well that’s allowed but I will not be told that real unpasteurised cheese is not permitted. NO.