Nathan Englander: “Write what you know” is the best and most misunderstood advice on writing. (via Big Think)
This reminds me of what Geraldine Brooks contributed to the ‘Writers on Writing’ column in The New York Times. The following quote appears on the second page:
Write what you know. Every guide for the aspiring author advises this. Because I live in a long-settled rural place, I know certain things. I know the feel of a newborn lamb’s damp, tight-curled fleece and the sharp sound a well-bucket chain makes as it scrapes on stone. But more than these material things, I know the feelings that flourish in small communities.
And I know other kinds of emotional truths that I believe apply across the centuries. I delivered my son in a modern hospital, but his birth was a bloody, protracted, life-threatening obstetrical emergency. Of what I know from this, which matters more? That the doctor used precision-engineered forceps, or that I was terrified of losing my child?
Source: Brooks, G 2001, ‘Timeless Tact Helps Sustain a Literary Time Traveler’, The New York Times, 2 July, viewed 6 March 2012, <http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/02/arts/02BROO.html>.