7.3.10

Writing What You Know

I don't know about sex. I don't know about abuse. I don't know about fighting dragons in a magical war. I don't know about escaping a small town, because I don't live in one. I don't know what beer taste like and I definitely don't know what it's like to be seventeen because I am only fifteen, and yet, I write about all those things, because I enjoy writing about all those things.

I like taking that one girl I saw on the street, bending over and tying her shoe, and turning her into a character who is far away from home. I like taking that greasy mechanic down the street, and turning him into a man who is just as sleazy as he looks.

I like taking life and making it my own. Warping it, molding it, until I see it the way it needs to be seen. I don't have to live in a world filled with romance and danger and anger and fear, but my characters can.

Write what you know, they say. But in reality I don't know anything.

As I eat breakfast, somewhere in the world, a girl is being abused by her father. As I get on the bus to go to school, somewhere in the world, a baby is being born. As I lay down to go to sleep, somewhere in the world, a bomb goes off. As I live, somewhere in the world, a life is lost.

I don't know that for sure, but I live in a world where everything happens. No I don't have to be there to know that a woman just spent thirteen hours bringing a life into this world. No I don't have to be in the truck that just got blown up by a bomb. No I don't have to be there to experience what really goes on in the world. No I don't have to write about being an only child whose father was never around, who was verbally abused in elementary school, who believes love is stronger than anything, just because I am that child.

Writing has nothing to do with knowing, because in reality, we don't know. We live the lives that we know, and all the other lives are the ones that we see, the ones that we hear about, from time to time.

Maybe you don't hear about a dragon walking through the streets of New York or maybe you don't see a unicorn running through the park everyday, but it doesn't mean it isn't possible.

Write what you want to know, and don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

It's your story, after-all.

5 comments:

  1. It's kind of surreal how you can pick just about any scenario and chances are that somewhere someone is living it. It used to creep me out when I was younger to think of all those lives going on - lives I knew nothing about.

    Beautiful post! I completely agree! :)

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  2. I had a creative writing teacher who said rather than writing what you know (which he claimed was absolute rubbish), we should know what we write...meaning we should be in the situation emotionally...place yourself in your MC's footsteps, and you might just produce something real, and heartfelt, and true. I believe you're completely gifted at doing so :)

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  3. Great post. I wrote what I knew, called it fiction, and realized it was rubbish. Once I got that out of my system I started to really write. It was a process for me.

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  4. So, so true. Love this post - and Melissa's comment. "Know what we write," for sure.

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  5. When someone tells me I should write what I know, I immediately think about my favorite book, Little women. That's the advice that Friederich gives Jo; and before I go into one of my more feminist arguments, I have to say, no don't do that.

    You write about things that you are passionate about, what you can imagine. Imagination is the force that drives our stories, isn't it?

    great post!

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