Write what you know about? Write about what makes you happy or sad. Great advice huh? How the hell many books can you write about building a dog house, Happy and sad themes are in a nauseating category all their own.
When you write something, you should be as surprised as the reader if it’s something you know about or just pulled out of your ass. Happy, sad, how in hell should you know, the story’s not over. Do you even understand what fiction is? Fiction is when we make shit up. We have no boundaries, why should we build any. Nonfiction is for analytical losers who need it all spelled out for them. Biographies, autobiographies, history, what could be more mundane? We know how biographical works end. If the person weren’t known well enough, who would waste their time writing it. Unless you’re putting pen to paper, to capture the essence of the Episcopalian religion and it’s estrangement from the Catholics, to an eight year old, it’s old news. It’s been done, why rehash it and put people to sleep? Now, if you write a story of Eddie Episcopoliano, who raped robbed and pillaged his way to establish a gentleman’s club in downtown Philly, fell victim to undercover nuns and his life’s work was transformed into a church, you may have stumbled onto something.
The reader does not care to be burdened with veracity anymore than they must. It is the responsibility of the writer to not only avoid truism but to strive to share as little factual substance as possible. Historical fiction be damned. If my editor had her way, my work would be peppered with trite bullshit. The liberty bell, you could see Monticello, Joe Blow was in his second term as POTUS. If someone wants historical places or people to relate to, let them write their own bloody book.
At first blush, it might seem to you, I’m suggesting this is the only way to write fiction. That would likely be the first time you’ve been correct today. As much as I do enjoy the tantalizingly delicious melody of my own articulation, that’s not my mission today. Writing is like falling off a log. I think, therefore I write. Nothing mystical. Mark Twain an author commonly compared to me, probably did fall off a log. Being a former riverboat captain, I suppose he may have touched on things he knew. Some of my stories have meandered into beer joints, only out of need for background, but I also tell tales of brawls, drunkenness and promiscuity, subjects of which I can only speculate.
I hope my short tutorial has been helpful...uh, my editor just came in and looks like she’s liquored up again. I study her eyes, “what’s up,” she takes me by the hand and says, “sometimes the britches just have to come off.” Well, I know about it and I like it. I suppose if I just don’t write about it…