Write What You Know?

I’ve heard it more times than I care to admit, those people reading my writing, clucking their tongues and saying, “You write what you know.” And I get exasperated, because they’ve probably just read my treatise on the glory of the socialist state, or my poem about a trip to hell, or the story I wrote from the perspective of a girl who lost her virginity at 13. How would I know anything about any of that, having never lived in a socialist state (that I know of), never having been to hell (although maybe Brooklyn qualifies these days), and never having been a girl (my virginity was intact until I was 21, by the way)? Yet they somehow try to force me into the narrative, into the dialogue somehow, as if there is no other way of writing, as if my imagination isn’t good enough (or perhaps too good) to come up with something like that out of thin air.

Give writers more credit. Or at least give some writers more credit. You know the writer who only writes about their daily lives, their troubles, their issues, and their foibles. And that’s okay. Some of my favorite bloggers are those who write that and only that. It’s what they know, and they’re experts at it. If I can’t live inside their skin, it’s a close second to read through their emotional baggage laid out on the screen. I know, too, for so many of those writers, it’s a therapeutic exercise, to get it all out, like focused breathing. In and out. Repeat. Some writers have that gift, to connect the readers with the experience, just as it happened and nothing else. Continue reading “Write What You Know?”