Apr 12, 2014

Posted by in On Writing | 0 Comments

#AtoZChallenge – J is for Joy & K is for Knowledge

I know, I missed yesterday. :-( But I’m still here, plugging away! You get a two-fer today. ;-)

J is for Joy

It seems to me that oftentimes, in their quest to be “serious,” or become published authors, writers forget the reason so many of us come to writing: for the joy of it.

I didn’t start writing way back when because I wanted to be published, or get rich (thank god), or become famous. I wrote because I had a story to tell. I had a story that lived inside my head and wouldn’t let me go until I got it down on paper – and yes, I do mean paper. I was ten years old when I started my first forays into journaling, and twelve when I decided to write my first “novel.” I put that in quotations because it never really was more than a long, rambling retelling of what was my then-favorite book, “Island of the Blue Dolphins.” But I could no more not tell that story than I could not eat or sleep: it lived in me and getting it out, writing it down, crafting it (even then) was a joyful thing. It took me places that reading stories could not, and I still hark back to those moments of pure astonished joy I felt as a child when I write something now, something that moves me, that takes me to that special place that only writing a story can take me.

Does writing fill you with joy? Do you still feel pleasure in crafting a story, in telling your story, in making yourself heard through your written words? If not, perhaps you should examine why you do write. Perhaps there are other reasons, and perhaps they are good ones for you – in that case, more power to you and keep on keeping on! :-) But if not…what can you do to restore joy to your writing practice?

K is for Knowledge

We’ve all heard the adage, “write what you know.” And for the most part, I do: I write kink-focused erotica, some F/F erotica, and the stories about my real life kink and poly relationship with two men. But that’s only because I love to write about sex and kink, so it just so happens that I can write what I know.

But what about if you want to write murder mysteries? Or a biography of a president? Unless you are a murderer, or a homicide detective, or friends with the president, it’s likely you won’t be “writing what you know.”

Personally, I think the adage is a crock of shit. We write fiction (some of us.) Fiction is, by its very definition, not truth. But we still have to be sure that within that fictional realm, we have the knowledge we need to write realistically – or as realistically as the story needs, in order not to snap our audience out of the story with an obvious factual error.

I “write what I can imagine.” And then study and learn the things I need to know – the particulars of how a murder investigation is run, for instance, if I want to write a crime procedural – if those things aren’t in my bailiwick. The key is to know what I don’t know,  and to gain that knowledge before I write about it.

There is a danger of getting caught up in the research, though. I once wanted to write a novel set in the 1800’s. I knew I didn’t know enough about those times to write about it with any accuracy (and historical fiction readers can be the toughest audience – they know their stuff!) So I started reading, and researching, and…20 years later I still don’t have a novel. Now there are a lot of reasons why this is so – mostly because I just don’t have the perseverance to see a novel through! – but it’s also because I got so caught up in research that I lost the thread of my story. By the time I got my nose out of the books, I had forgotten who my characters were, and was frankly already bored with the storyline and ready to move on.

Will I ever write that novel, or any? Well that’s a question for another prompt, perhaps. ;-)

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