My writing group met last night. We've been meeting for about 5 years now and know each other pretty well. We're an odd group, I write erotic romance, then we have literary fiction, fantasy and inspirational mystery/suspense. So far we've all gotten along well. Apart from that one occasion when I almost burst into tears and left because someone kept picking on my hero :)
Last night we discussed that age old chestnut, 'write what you know' -did it mean you had to write about your life and only the things you had experienced or did it mean something more profound? Perhaps it meant write about what you believe in? We all had to stop and think about that.
For our inspirational writer it was easier, because for her, the faith element is not only what she 'knows' but what she strives to achieve in her life. I can totally respect that. For our literary gal, again she writes thinly veiled memoir so she really writes what she knows in the more expected sense. The fantasy writer weighed in with the thought that she always explores the journeys of women who are weak and how they become strong.
As for me...well, obviously I don't write what I do. I'm a happily married women thank you very much :). I don't need to seek the sexual thrills my characters crave and I still don't know how the hell I ended up with quite this erotic an imagination! So this is my take on the 'write what you know' thing. I write about human relationships because I am totally fascinated by how people relate to each other, the grays of sexual identity, the way people speak, or don't speak, the way they touch, or don't touch, the intricate dance of a courtship or a sexual relationship.
I've always admired authors who write fabulous dialogue-Dorothy Dunnett is one of those writers whom I love to read because her characters are so often at cross purposes and the flaws in their communications just exacerbate the problems. I want to write as well as that when I grow up and I certainly force my characters to talk to each other. The other thing I strive to achieve is honesty between my characters about what they crave or desire or need to be happy-and ultimately, that's what we all want really, isn't it? Someone to love us for ourselves.
So am I writing what I know or simply expressing my view of the world of sexual intimacy? I'm not sure, I'm certainly not trying to preach a way of life or a belief that everyone is sexually blurred. Is it even necessary for a writer to know why she writes the way she does? I'm not sure I have the answer to that one either! How about any of you?