Monday, June 14, 2010

Write what you know?

Sometimes they tell you to write what you know. My husband says I should write about moving from England to the US. I think I write about displacement instead, and locate it wherever my characters tell me to. But I guess there's always something of what I know, delving into the shadows of dreams to let my characters make sense of them.

Sometimes they tell you to set your imagination free. Don't tie yourself to the boring facts you know. Though, of course, those facts might not be entirely boring. My imagination's been wandering since the day I learned to talk. Reining it in might be the problem.

Sometimes they tell you just to write. That's the rule I found hardest of all. It seems like all the writers I meet have delighted in journaling their days. But I have a box filled with empty diaries, where my journaling lasted a mere three weeks or less. One of them has checkmarks for the days when I thought I'd been good. That's the one that lasted the whole three weeks, though the checkmarks seemed to decrease in frequency.

I guess blogging's a bit like keeping a journal. Maybe that's why I'm not particularly good at it. And today's blog's meant to be about a book I read, since I'm part of Wahida Clark's What's Really Hood book tour. You can see my review of What's Really Hood here, and my review of Shiva's arms, another book where the author clearly writes what she knows, has just gone up on gather too.

What's Really Hood is street fiction. It's something I definitely couldn't write, since I truly don't know it. But it's a world I might imagine sometime, shifting it perhaps to a back street in Manchester, to something smaller, to a wandering child. Do we add what we learn from other people's writing to the things that we know?

And Shiva's Arms is a wonderful literary tale, telling the clash of Hindu and Christian cultures through the eyes of a "mixed" family, wounds and healing and all. I'm part of Cheryl Snell's blog tour too, but that's not started yet, but it's certainly another book to look out for.


Cold As Heaven said...

I think your husband's suggestion is good. Write about the differences of living in America compared to Europe. It's quite big I think, when it comes to cultural, social, economical and religious attitudes and values. At least that's my impression, after living in USA for one year, and many shorter visits.

Cold As Heaven

Aubrie said...

I write a mixture of what I know and the stuff I make up! It would be neat to read a book written about moving from England to the US and all the differences. I'd buy it!

techranger said...

Good luck with whatever you decide to do... and always ask for God's guidance. I have always wanted to write but my skills appear to lie elsewhere. :) However, I am attempting to keep a semblance of a journal blog... only with His help will it be a blessing to others.

God bless!

maryrussel said...

I wrote a similar article about a week ago. I write a mixture of both too. My characters are usually based on people I know.

I love the research involved in writing about what I don't already know.