to heed or not to heed


“write what you know.”  ugh!  this advice is so ubiquitous that writers – particularly this writer – can’t help but play it in a subconscious loop at all times of the day and night.

and with that glorious mantra must necessarily come the question, “but what do i know?

for the moment, we’ll set aside the concern that no one anywhere would ever want to read what i know and i’ll quickly create a list:

what i know:

  • knitting
  • food
  • mental illness
  • insomnia
  • stage management
  • events industry
  • family law
  • travel
  • being tall
  • wearing glasses
  • having short hair

okay…maybe i’m grasping at straws there at the end.

[so… much to my surprise, upon writing this list i have realized that i know about some things that might make for interesting writing. hm.]

but now i have to ask: do i know enough about any of these things?  am i willing to devote innumerable hours and immeasurable energy focusing on any of these things?  wouldn’t i rather be eating, knitting, sleeping, travelling and being tall rather than writing about it?

plus, i have heard it said that the surest way to spoil the thing you love is to study it.  does this apply to subjects of writing?  will i suddently want to hand in my passport if i write about wanderlust?  will i stop eating good food if… well, that’ll never happend, so i’m not even going to finish that question.

and yet, what else would i write about?  i can’t credible write about being an astrophysicist.  and it would take a lifetime of research (and school and money and time) to get just enough knowledge to write about an astrophysicist.

[also… i would like to acknowledge that this level of over-analyzing is my very own favorite way of procrastinating.]

so, i ask you: “write what you know.”  to heed or not to heed?


2 thoughts on “to heed or not to heed

  1. yep. the instructors always say “write what you know”. whay if what you know
    is unacceptable to write and you only know one or two other things?

    1. shauna, my first reaction to your comment was “but nothing is ‘unacceptable’ to write.” then i though of about 80 different things that i “know” that wouldn’t be taken very well if put on paper.

      and yet… maybe that’s the challenge: finding a way to make the “unacceptable” acceptable. or maybe the unacceptable is truly what we need to be writing in order to break boundaries.

      unless, of course, by “unacceptable” you mean 101 ways to commit patricide without leaving behind a body. in that case, you might want to keep it to yourself. then again… sounds like a good psychological thriller to me!

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