March 14, 2013
Write What you Know
Writers are often told write what you know, and this includes place. Some writers break this rule, but I find myself more comfortable sticking to writing about places I understand. I once wrote a story that got published about a woman riding a bus in Mexico, something I've never done, and while I did get to use my imagination, I always felt as if I might have missed some important details that would have made that short story richer. I put a rooster on the bus. I don't know if roosters can really ride buses in Mexico.
I thought of this understanding of place because, due to the blessings of rain, the desert is blooming in Arizona this year unlike previous years. Last year I don't think I saw one flower. If you don't live here, or visit often, you might not realize how special this is to see grass in the desert. Where I grew up in Illinois, grass was no big deal. Actually, it was sorta a pain in the butt to have to mow. In the desert, grass is amazing. Add the yellow and purple flowers, and you'll find photographers with expensive looking cameras out there right now capturing the beauty you might see on a calendar next year.
I didn't know deserts even had flowers when I was growing up in Illinois.
When I write I set my stories usually in places I have lived. I've never lived in Mississippi, so you won't find a story of mine set there. I've visited New York City, but I don't feel qualified to write about the Big Apple. Even if I did have the opportunity to travel more, I'm not sure I'd write about a place I didn't feel as if I truly knew. Nothing like living with a person to help you understand them, for good and bad, and the same with a place.