If you’ve ever done a writing course, you will have heard the rule: write what you know. Pretty straight forward advice. Like me, you might have decided to stay within the safe confines of your areas of knowledge. You can’t get things wrong that way, right?
Following the above rule you give your characters the same job experiences, food preferences, thought processes, lifestyles choices as yourself. Safe and simple.
That’s what I thought. But somehow I found myself writing a romance novel when I know nothing about love. How did that happen? And I set part of the story on a dairy farm. I thought I knew nothing about that, but it turns out my great grandparents ran a dairy farm in Western Australia. I had no idea until after the book was written. What part of me was drawn to explore love and dairy farming? Certainly not a conscious part of me.
Perhaps we write about what we need to know. We write about what mystifies us, what rules us, the emotions that brew below the surface of our everyday lives. We follow a whisper at the level of our DNA. We write the unknown in order to make it familiar and more accessible.
Or at least I think that’s what happens.
Do you write about what you know? Or what you need to know? Has your writing surprised you? Have you ever thought, where did that come from?
[Thank you so much to BrownPaperBagGirl and also CreativeBarbedWire for this award. It’s taken me a week to figure out how to get it posted here – just drag and drop – and it makes me happier than you can imagine. Thanks guys. My first award. Yay.]
I think what I have to do now is tell seven things about myself. Here goes:
1. I am far more sensitive that I let on.
2. Coffee is my favourite way to feel good in the morning. The joy of getting all the elements right; temperature, grind, milk texture, the pouring together. It’s alchemy, it’s love, it’s a constant joyous juggle of external factors. When it’s done right – bliss.
3. I don’t trust people who don’t like animals.
4. Mowing the lawn is like vacuuming outside; boring and tedious. I do, however, love it when all the grass is cut. But I want it to last forever. Confession: sometimes, in Summer, I try to almost kill it by cutting it really short in the hope that it will burn a little and grow back more slowly. Sorry, grass.
5. I believe we are too visually dependent. If we couldn’t see, we would stop judging each other on inconsequential things like appearance, race, age, height, fashion sense. We would listen more to each other. We’d perhaps live at a slower pace, enjoying simple things like breathing and sharing conversations.
6. I have moments when I don’t know anything at all. I feel empty. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing .
7. Some of the people I’ve “met” on this site are just beautiful and I feel inspired when I read their blogs.
Thanks guys, that was fun.