Well, we've all heard THAT one plenty of times.
Write what you know, Young Writer!
So who are these writers spewing out series upon series of goblins, dragons, vampies, and fairies? Do they write vampires, because they, well, know vampires? If that's true, than I feel like I've led an entirely sheltered life. I don't know about you, but mine has been utterly devoid of anything remotely resembling a sexy vampire, hot werewolf, or even a fire-spitting dragon. Quite boring, in fact, compared to other writers, who are apparently writing what they know.
So my only recourse, I suppose, is to substitute knowledge with feeling. I may not know anything about time travel because I am no Dr.Who, but I can imagine what it might feel like to be lost in another place with no way home. After all, I've been lost and afraid, scared witless, certain I might never see the people I loved ever again. I used to race BMX bikes as a child, and I had a terrible habit of running off into the woods to play with the boys in between the races. Well, couple that indomitable desire to explore with the reckless abandon of a child, and yes, I can say I've been quite thoroughly lost with fear of no return.
Neither do I have personal experience with life in the 17th century, yet I have an inkling of what it means to work hard labor with my hands. I imagine life in those times would have consisted somewhat of that. I worked many years as a young woman on a horse farm, which was an outside job all year 'round. Mucking stalls until your hands bleed and riding horses until your ass aches are things a girl never forgets. One also recalls the taste of that delicious bitter beer at the end of the day, sitting on the tailgate of a truck as we rounded the last of the yearlings in from the fields. It was hard work, work that left me scarred, as I imagine the life of those early American settlers must have left them.
No, I do not know some of the things I write, nor have I lived all those lives, but I have lived a bit in mine and I can bend it how I please. That's the beauty of being a writer. I can take what is mine, see what is yours, and make it something more.
So I say to all of you, who have heard that Most Sage Advice to write what you know... consider adding onto that by writing what you feel. We may not have all met vampires and dragons or lived in exotic times, but we have surely lived a passionate life in that place inside our mind. Use it, cultivate it, take that piece inside yourself that aches and see it through.
Just my musings, as I contemplate how sad I am over killing off a character I've grown kinda attached too... xoxo EB