If you want to write about something, it pays to organise your writing somehow. People like things that are in some order or another. It gives them a sense of familiarity. It makes them feel safe. It gives them a path to guide them there and back again.
A dictionary is only useful because it is organised. Imagine getting, for Christmas, the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary containing entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. Imagine further that these words were in a random order. I reckon that this might interest you for a short while, but would it be useful if you wanted to look up the meaning of a particular word? Probably not.
Here’s another thing for you to imagine – an article about Freud’s concept The Death Drive organised on an A to Z basis, where each section is named after a letter of the alphabet and talked about some aspect of this concept in a more or less random fashion. Would you be interested? I suppose you would, if the subject or author entertained you, or if it was written in an engaging style. But if not, then – meh, give it a miss, right?
Try this one for size (last one, I promise) – imagine an article setting out, paragraph by paragraph, examples of hybrids (think Mule, Christnukkah, Prius, ginormous etc.) and whether or not they work, in the author’s opinion. Organised – certainly. Interesting? Well – that’s a matter of taste really I guess.
The point is that beyond the usefulness of the principle of organisation, the beauty of how something is laid out is entirely in the eyes of the beholder. As a reader – if you gets it, you gets it, and if you don’t, you don’t. And it’s at this point, my friend, where you should be realising that at the end of the day you can write any old shite you like – so long as it is organised in a useful way.
And just in case you were wondering – the articles I talked about are real. They are:
- Deborah Levy, ‘A–Z of the Death Drive’ (2013) and
- Lia Purpura,‘Why Some Hybrids Work and Others Don’t’ 2013), in Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction pages 11-14.