Is the axiom in the subject true? As writers we are always told to write what we know, write what we love. Therefore, it could be concluded that we are what we write. Right? Although I fully agree we should always write what we know, I see more to it than that.
There is much truth to the idea of writing what you know. Primarily, when you write what you know, you know what you write is right. Correct? I, for one, would fail miserably at writing about the specifics of the life of an attorney. I know next to nothing about attorneys. Does that mean, however, that I can not have an attorney as a main character in a book? No. How is that? Research. I know attorneys that would be glad to answer questions for my book.
And there’s always our friend Google.
But just because we can Google and ask our friends questions relating to the ins and outs of being an attorney, does that mean we can just go all willy nilly with our subjects, themes, and characters? Probably not. The farther you reach beyond your realm of recognition the less rich your characters will be.
If I look back at my writer’s timeline I can trace trends in my life. The characters, the plots, the themes…there are revelations from my life you will find in each of my books. But what happens when you venture outside of the possible? My Zombie triology (which will start hitting the shelves soon) deals with the entropy of the human condition on various levels…but it’s not realism. And although I am not a scientist or biologist, I do have a love for things science. Plus my love for horror brings an immediacy for me to the topic.
And although the main character of my first zombie novel is slowly transforming into one of the undead, I am not, nor have I ever been, a zombie. I hope to never be a zombie. I hope to never see a zombie.
But you never really know do you?
Naturally writers are curious people. We want to learn, we want to know, we want to venture outside of our comfort zone. If we don’t stretch our boundaries we don’t grow as writers or humans. I am constantly trying to stretch myself. That is why I write from the perspective of a woman, or a gay man, or a soon-to-be zombie.
Ultimately the choice is yours. You either write about what you know and love or you venture outside the comfort zone. Regardless of which way you go, make sure you go informed, armed with passion, and skill in hand. When you do, you will achieve great things. Don’t always play in your circle of trust. Poke your head outside and experience the rest of the world so you can use that world in your writing.