Write What You Know

Recently, I’ve been hearing authors trying to tell me that I need to write what I know. By that they mean, since I’m a white, heterosexual male – I need to write stories following white, heterosexual males because I don’t know what its like to be transgender, gay, female, etc.

And to that I say, “Fuck off.”

Why?

First, you don’t tell me – EVER – what I can and cannot write. I hate it when people do this with me concerning my art. It’s mine. I can do what ever I want. If you don’t like it or don’t agree with my view point, fuck off. Don’t read it. Or give me some good, constructive feedback and I’ll improve it – but never, ever tell me that I can’t do something.

Secondly, the idea that people cannot write outside of themselves is absolute bullshit. J.K. Rowling’s main character was a boy named Harry Potter. I think most of those people reading this would agree she did a great job with his character, correct? Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein, a story about a mad MALE scientist and she did a great job with it, right? Anne Rice, the Vampire Chronicles are all male characters written by a woman author – she did okay, right? What about men? Jeffrey Eugendies wrote about a transgender in Middle Sex, Ian McEwan did Atonement, etc.

Truth is, looking back at history, there have been people of different races, genders, and nationalities writing and creating characters way beyond their ‘personal’ knowledge base. Black authors writing about the white experience, whites writing about Latino struggles in LA, and so it goes.

Writers are able to do this and do it successfully. Most writers write stories about people they want to know or understand more about so don’t have an issue researching different cultures and people to write their stories.

Shit, I took a Female Voice writing class in school to learn how women think and act to improve my female characters in my books. You read any of my stuff and you’ll find strong female characters – and gay! In my novel HOLY CRAP AND THE JUDGMENT DAY BLUES, my main character is a homosexual author. To learn more about the gay experience, I interviewed a friend of mine who is gay and got a ton of information. I researched hate crimes and even watched gay porn. It all helped me write I very strong and realistic gay character, and taught me more, as a human, about the gay experience.

Third, don’t restrict your creative freedom! Everyone is out to stop you these days it seems, but as writers, never let them. Write what you like and about who you like no matter the skin color, sexual orientation, or whatever. Once you start self-censoring yourself out of fear your artistic freedom is dead.

So to all those people telling me to write about the white experience ONLY because I’m white – go eat a bag full of fish sticks, because it isn’t going to happen. The people saying this foolishness are people who fail to understand that the human experience is shared and the story we write is unique to the one writing it.

We can all write a story in the Star Wars universe, even using the same characters, and I promise you each and every single one of them (outside of the character names) would be unique.

In the meantime, please go check out my novel THE WRETCHED over on Amazon for those lonely nights where you got nothing to read.

Or get my short story, THE FALLEN, for free until May 11th at the link here.


Thanks

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