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Monday, August 10, 2015

Writing What I Know

"Write what you know." That writing advice has been around since our ancestors were drawing pictures on cave walls.

The problem is I really don't know a lot--certainly not about the world beyond my small Oregon community. I have no idea which musical groups are popular today or why and since I've gone to the movies once in the past two years, I know better than to write about actors and actresses. Even though my grandfather did it, I can't write science fiction to save myself. I'm too old and uninterested to try to tackle New Adult (which I believe is about people in their early twenties). Most paranormal leaves me cold and don't get me started on the whole billionaire craze. I'm not with it, far from cutting edge. I'm not going to blaze new trails.

So what can I write about? I started thinking about that this morning while I was in the shower since I seem to do my best thinking while wet. Well, I could write an entire book about plumbing repairs and misbehaving computers. I could fill pages with a discourse on the sad state of my nails or how to bathe a dog that hates water. What? No one is interested?

That's what I thought so here's what I came up with--and what I've been writing about for all those decades. I deeply love the wilderness. I understand its heartbeat and feel completely at home on a deserted logging road.

My heart responds to the warmth and weight of a baby in my arms, a child's hug, gazing into a dog's eyes, the pain of losing a parent brain cell by brain cell, the peace that comes with being in my garden, disappointment, fear, joy, laughter, tears, time spent with dear friends.

In other words, for this writer at least, writing what I know means tapping into my emotions and placing them within the pages of a book.

 Successful fiction isn't about thoroughly researching a career or setting. Neither is it about accurately depicting police procedure or the most advanced computer hacking techniques. Successful fiction is about the characters and emotion is what brings characters to life. As a reader I care about characters who care about the people in their fictional world and as a writer, I will succeed only if I can look deep inside myself to where emotion lies.
(For the record, that's my grandson looking at his new nephew)

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to drop by--finally--and wish you all the best, Vella.