Write What You Know

“Write what you know.”


I hate this cliche bit of writing advice. I first heard it as said to Jo March in Little Women, and then again and again as I dove into the deep, Olympic swimming pool of the writing world.

The trouble with this advice, as with all cliches, is there’s quite a bit of truth in it.

Which is so annoying.

How does one write about magical worlds and special girls with secret powers and evil queens and glittery unicorns when one lives in THIS world? I mean, look around. This world is full of dirty clothes and dirty dishes and traffic jams and bathroom scales and taxes. Taxes, for goodness sake.

Ugh. No way.

The work around this (for me) was to make my life magic. This sounds impossible, but it’s really not. What do you want your forte to be? Become the expert in that field. Vampires? Steampunk? Space Flight? Mermaids? Look it up. Research it. The more you do…the more you find things that parallel your own life.

Trust me. It’s creepy, but true.

There’s another cliche: “Art imitates life.” That one’s true too.

For me, it was the fairy tales — true allegory if there ever was some. Once I sunk my teeth in deep enough, it wasn’t hard to see the parallels in my own life. I am a third child of a third child and a first child of a first child. I was a lost girl in a dark wood who came out the other side a princess. My youngest sister traveled the world to find her fortune, and now jewels fall from her mouth whenever she speaks. My father, the storyteller, once used fairy tale logic to hide top secret information in plain sight. And my mother…well…this is my mother.

‘Nuff said.