Monday, September 21, 2009

What If What You Know Limits You

It's strange, when people try to encourage you to write by writing what you know. Always had a problem with that. I was never sure if I know enough about anything to write about it.

Once, when I was younger, a friend dared me to write a love scene. One with actual kissing and, uhm, groping, and stuff. Risque, especially if you were fourteen years old and educated in an all-girls private school since kindergarten. All the love scenes I know were culled from Judith McNaught novels and Johanna Lindsey prototypes of wham-bam-thank-you-mam. All I know is I hated those love scenes because it always felt impersonal, not to mention overtly romanticized. So when I wrote my story, I ended up with a scenario that put together these elements in some haphazard manner: depressed guy, concerned girl, lots of facial hair (on the guy, of course), a razor blade, soap and the girl's warm hands shaving off the gunk off his face (and no, they didn't get freaky). My friend thought it was superbly cheesy and I swore off love scenes ever since. I remember muttering to her (I might have been just a sore sport, cos I believed she was a better writer than I was), "Well, what do I Know of love scenes anyway?"

Since then, I stuck with "Write what you know". I decided to be as interested about everything I possibly could, cultivating my love for trivia, human psychology and forcing myself to read sociological treatises which are as exciting as watching an empty aquarium. And yet years later, when I asked myself if I know more than I did before, I realized I was still buggered if I know.

SO when somebody introduced me to surrealism and fantasy, I felt like I won the 500B Lotto. I realized some of the things, I CAN make up after all. And after a couple of years of practicing with the genre, I am ready to question my former decision about not writing about what I don't know yet. Because as it happens, writing what CAN BE is so much more exciting. And we don't have to limit it to fantasy. Because I seriously doubt Robert Parker kills people to write his murder mysteries more reastically.

I guess the take-home for this essay is this: Write what fascinates you, whether you know it or you are just about to learn more about it. Who knows? Maybe I could even re-write that bathroom love story and nail it this time around. (Absolutely no pun intended).

No comments:

Post a Comment