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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM JORDAN TAYLOR
For many years, I’ve heard both writers and normal people repeat a line of such utter nonsense it’s anyone’s guess how it became popular: “Write what you know.”
If I wrote what I knew, I’d be writing about someone who sits around and writes much of the day while having imaginary conversations with imaginary people doing imaginary things. What a waste of time. Why not jot down those conversations and call them a novel?
Alternately, I could be writing about dogs. While I have written one nonfiction book about dogs, (Wonder Dogs: 101 German Shepherd Dog Films) and dogs do often pop up in my fiction, the subject does not hold a lot of interest for me in a literary sense. I know too much about dogs to enjoy writing about them.
People who write historical fiction never write what they know. You can swallow the research library, but have you ever been in a joust? Have you ever survived a sword blow? Have you ever jumped from one moving railcar to another?
For the vast majority of people who write fiction, writing what you know would turn your epic masterpieces into something either dreadfully dull by comparison, or much too personal for you to ever want published. Or both.
I can think of little in the world more tedious than writing about the things I know and have done and experienced. Not because my life is shockingly dull, but because I do not have any interest in my own life when compared to the lives of my characters. They might be doing anything from being trapped without food by a Yukon blizzard in 1897, to acting in a third-rate Hollywood film of 1922, to fighting for their lives in a modern day hospital. They can not only be anywhere in the world, but anywhere in time. They can be anyone and live any life.
Then there’s me: Sitting here at my computer, writing, sipping a tall glass of water with powdered vitamins in it: Hoping people around me don’t start coming down with the swine flu.
Whose story would you rather read?
Advent Calendar Giveaway!
Name three movies that are profiled in Wonder Dogs: 101 German Shepherd Dog Films. A random winner from all correct answers will be selected to receive a gift certificate to Amazon.