Write what you know; know thyself.
I’ve been thinking about the old adage “write what you know,” which, for the purposes of today’s mental tangent, shall mean “write what you love.” Because really, why would you expect anyone to love something you wrote if you don’t? If you’re writing something according to someone else’s opinion of what sells, all you’re doing is teaching yourself to be good at something that someone else is going to be better at, because that person will be adding passion on top of talent.
But that’s not the mental tangent, just the setup.
The actual tangent is that there’s a gap between some of the things I try to write and the things I love to read. I try to sample highbrow literature-type things on a regular basis on the theory that they’re good for me, and they are. What would my life have been like without Sartre? Or Camus? Or the Romantics? Or Thomas Hardy? And so on?
But I don’t love them; I don’t reread them. The closest I get to loving a stereotypically “literate” author is Jane Austin, because alongside all that gorgeous style and wit, THE GIRL GETS THE BOY AND THEY LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER!
I am also a sucker for coming-of-age stories and overcoming-the-odds stories, especially overcoming-the-odds-with-sass stories. Style is a plus, but a book won’t delight me for long if it doesn’t include one of the old plot chestnuts. I mean, I used to watch soap operas during the day. (The Young and the Restless was my favorite.)
But…it’s been such a matter of pride that I avoid exactly the type of story that I’m a sucker for. There always has to be some kind of complication. I end up liking the things I write, but I don’t love them.
Like most deepish things, it doesn’t do me any good to resolve to go right out and change what I’m doing, but I will keep it in mind and watch what happens…