I know, this is late, and I’m sorry. I could come up with a fascinating excuse about being chased by spies through railway stations, or whisked away to Oz, or just finding myself trapped underground with the water slowly rising, but none of these are true (this time…). I just got very confused as to my days.
Anyway, this is what I wanted to say.
Write what you know, we are told, often. Well, if I did that, I’d only write about disappointing shopping trips and not getting round to doing the washing up. Mrs Hudson in my book has been a wife and mother. I’ve been neither of those, I can’t write what I know about it. I have to imagine it.
If people only wrote what they know, we’d have no Lord of the Rings, or Narnia, or Wind in the Willows, or Harry Potter….
I’d like to change ‘write what you know’ to ‘write what you imagine’. It still needs a basis in what you know. I haven’t been a wife and mother, but I have loved people, and I have watched people, and from that, I imagined what it would be like to be Mrs Hudson – or anyone else (and that has included a few murderers by now). Imagination has played a far greater part in my creative process than first hand knowledge.
Besides, I’ve often find that writing about something I know little about is a great way to get into someone’s mind, and work out what they feel and think. Writing is an act of exploration of a world outside our own.
So write what you know, then write what you can imagine, and your story will fly.