Many of us have been in situations where vague ‘conventions’ are cited, the unwritten rules governing this or that realm. Sometimes I have sensed that ‘convention’ was a fig-leaf for ‘convenience’.

The purveyors and guardians of such conventions aren’t always able to pinpoint where they come from and even less why they came into being and whether they (still) have any validity.  I’ve always been interested in those who have flourished in a given field while following their gut and heart even when this meant flouting such conventions.

And yes, it’s true, readers don’t read by rules.

“From the time I started in the business, I’d been hearing about the ‘conventions’ of book publishing. It seemed there were a lot of rules about what you could and couldn’t do, which didn’t seem to make much sense to me, since readers don’t read by rules. Ian (Ballantine) didn’t believe any of that, and he’d been overwhelmingly more successful than the people spouting these rules were. Right then, I decided to become a publisher who would publish books I loved with only a nodding glance to ‘the rules.’”

Source: Lou Aronica, quoted in Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (London: Penguin, 2009), p. 181

 

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