Writing what I DO know
I’m sure many of us are familiar with the old adage, ‘Write what you know’. There are arguments for and against this. If you know about something you have plenty of material to draw upon. If you write about what you don’t know, you can let your imagination run riot. I’m a fan of using both approaches.
When I have felt ‘the nudges’ within me to write over the years I have tried to push them down because I just did not know what little old me could possibly write about. It felt like what I knew was dull. Not many of us think our lives and experiences are so amazing that all and sundry want to share in them. Unless you are a serial killer, a clown or a freak who wears mascot costumes. In those instances, (a) you scare the living daylights out of me (b) go write that stuff down, and (c) please do so at a safe distance.
So I held off from writing for a long time. I didn’t even trust that I had much of an imagination to write what I didn’t know. Although upon reflection, the excuses I used to phone in sick for past crappy jobs refutes this. Or possibly not, as I would still be in one of those jobs otherwise.
Then it happened…
Call it inspiration, call it stupidity, call it anything you want, but it happened. At the risk of sounding ‘worthy’ or just a total twonk (I am so very 80s), I just knew one morning what I could write. It was time to use the journals I had written in periods of severe depression. How I was capable of writing when in ‘the pit’ seemed a mystery then. Now I know why.
I unearthed the journals and set about reading them. I cried. I laughed. I mourned for my old self and I celebrated how far I have come. I continue to do so as I write the first draft of this novel.
I realise now that I was avoiding writing about what I fear the most in this world; depression. It is my nemesis. But I can now also make it my muse. I am using my personal griefs and struggles (along with some lovely black humour) and exposing myself (without taking my pants off, although if it gets the book published…)*
Writing what I DON’T know
Here’s where the writing what I don’t know part comes in. This is not a memoir. This is not all about me. I am not the main character, although we share common experiences such as being female, teaching, a love of cheese, bloody depression and possessing shiny, sarky pants – this preoccupation with pants is now starting to worry me. **
I am now writing what I do and do not know. My imagination runs riot and gets a little strange, a little funny, a little ranty, all underpinned by experience. I always wondered why on earth I was writing those journals. I am now beginning to understand why.
* Mum, if you’re reading this, it has not got so desperate yet that I am indulging the publishing world’s equivalent of the casting couch.
* I will not answer any comments concerning my pants. There are other more ‘specialist’ blogs for that. Or just go and buy Playboy where, admittedly, there are a deficit of them.
Note: I’m a Brit. Pants in ‘Britain World’ are knickers, boxers, Y-fronts or basically anything that hopefully covers your ‘bits’, although thongs are questionable.