Jun. 15th, 2012

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 I was thinking about this phrase earlier today. "Write what you know" -- for ages it was something that my mum would throw back at me whenever I showed her any of my writing. "You don't know what it's like to be a police officer! You don't know what it's like to be a gay boy! [I laugh a little at that one now.] You don't know what it's like to be in a relationship! Why do you keep writing about stuff you don't know anything about? Write what you know!!!!1!!!" are just a small sample of the things she would tell me.

At that point in time, she was my main input when it came to creative works -- she taught me to draw, to sew, to paint, to do calligraphy and to read aloud -- and I didn't understand what she meant when she snapped at me that my stories were never any good because I didn't know what I was writing about. So I just...stopped. I stopped thinking so big, and started writing small stories about things I knew about, such as going on sailing holidays and going to private school. I leapt at the chance to experience anything purely because I thought I would then be ~allowed~ to write about it. But the spark died from my writing and I ended up retreating to reading rather than writing (a decision I don't particularly regret, I have to say, because I read some wonderful books in those years and my understanding of language grew in leaps and bounds).

As I read those books, however, I couldn't help but wonder how any of the great stories were ever written if the writer had to live those experiences first -- how did Shakespeare write Romeo and Juliet -- surely he didn't have a whirlwind three-day romance ending in a double suicide? How did JK Rowling write the Harry Potter books? She was never a teenage boy attending wizarding school. If they hadn't experienced all that they wrote about, then how did they write those books so well? 

Read more... )


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June 2012

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