Write what you know. You’ve heard it before. I think people say that hoping to de-mystify writing, to make it sound easier, doable for all of us.
I see three problems with this imperative.
One is that I only know so much. There is another saying that everyone has at least one book in them. I believe that. But if I only write what I know, I may only have one book in me. But I have a need to write more.
Two is the question of imagination, creation, and exploration. Where are those things if we stay in the lines of what we know? What about all those worlds out there that I don’t know yet? I want to explore those.
Three is perhaps the most difficult. What I do know, what seems most important for me to capture and express, are the most difficult things to capture and express. I have experienced kindness, and sacrifice, and selfless service. I know devotion, loyalty, romance, and love. I have seen beauty, friendship, joy. I also know sorrow, and loss, and regret. Reverence, and grace, and faith are very real to me. These I try to capture in words. And that is the biggest challenge. How do I put the reality of these emotions and experiences into words.
Write what you know. It does sound simple. But it is a quest, an adventure, and often a frustration and agony. Maybe that is one kind of writer’s block–being filled with a knowing that no words can capture and describe. I am compelled to keep trying.