by Faith St. Clair
By nature I am quiet with few words to offer, no exotic life experiences to note, I have a desk job, a regular abnormal family and a simple mind. I do know I have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but that is more by faith than scriptural mastery. I know about changing diapers, being a taxi and worrying about young adult children. I know how to spatula 100 pounds on my hips without thinking, I know how to how to commence a mid-life crisis, I know theatre and the arts and I know that I don’t bond well with horizontal vertebrae (animals). I know the world is a scary place, but I also know it is an amazing adventure.
We are often told as writers to write what we know. What exactly does that mean? If something is fiction, then isn’t it make-believe? Do I need to have experienced something in order to write it with enough expertise in order for the reader to believe it? What if I’ve never been a vampire, a pilgrim, a dinosaur, a monk, a zoo keeper, a baseball player, a dog, an intergalactic ship captain, a ninja, a wizard or a hat-wearing cat? Does that mean I can’t write about it? I question that theory and implore other writers to chime in with their thoughts on this (whether they think they know something about it or not).
I am writing a book wherein my character is not my age, race or sex. He lives in a place that I have only driven through in a time period that I can only imagine. None of the other characters or antagonists remotely resembles anybody that I am acquainted with or that I associate with. My character has talents that I could hardly dream of and life hurdles that I would never want to have to jump. Although I feel compelled to tell the story, should I not be writing this book?
If I stick to just what I know, then I am writing about a walrus, pew-sitting, neurotic mother who enjoys “Cats” but only on stage. Somehow that doesn’t seem to make for a very exciting book series.
I know of a Caucasian young man who is writing a musical theatre piece on the Civil war. He drips with musical talent, but somehow there is no way a guy that looks like him, should be writing African American spirituals with complexity like that.
My point is that I think (I just think – I don’t KNOW), sometimes we are inspired to write things that are beyond our realms. Sometimes there is a higher power with a higher purpose for putting a pen in our hands and words in our heads.
I just wish those moments of purpose would come more frequently.