I don’t think so.
A friend tells me he knows of a woman who writes about travel, makes a living from it and hasn’t set foot in most of the destinations she writes of. My kind of writer woman, that’s who she is.
Isn’t that what writing is all about and why writers such as Diana Gabaldon, to name just one of many, (haven’t read her works, just know this from attending conferences where she was present/judging and learning about her extensive research from fans/friend/relatives) write so effectively about life in other centuries… well, I think it is.
Stephen King. Need I say more?
What good writing is about is not necessarily liking every single genre out there any more than one could enjoy every single genre of music. Nor is it about having the most education. Some of the most moving phrases I’ve ever read were issued by people with little or no formal education.
Call of the Wild suffered many rejections as have many other great works by brilliant minds before they were published. I believe good writing is about the gift of story, weaving a path people can follow, something that moves them to stay with you to the end of the journey.
Many writers have the gift of story and that is all they need. Good grammar, years of experience in the trenches, none of it will give you the gift of story. If you don’t know how to pull it out of yourself, no one will be pulled into it and it really won’t matter what you have to say. Readers, well, speaking for myself, have to feel something. Anything, joy, a kinship, sadness, understanding, anger, moved in some way by a feeling originating from what we write.
A lot of the time we are inhibited by fear. Fear of offending others, fear of making fools of ourselves. We just have to decide not to care about that. What kind of great works would be out there if everyone held back… isn’t that where “the gold” is… in letting it go, letting it flow out of ourselves… I believe it is. If people become ticked off about something I say, I cannot help it. That is part and parcel of laying yourself out there as a writer. I can’t change the opinions of others any more than I can fix their myopia. But I can lend fresh insights (annoying though they may be) to something in their world. Occasionally. I think.
If I wrote only what I already know, it would be a very short page indeed compared to life and what is available to discuss or share with others. Not to mention, for me, the boredom factor.
If I can’t keep trying new writing genres or styles, why bother, that’s all part of the fun for me and why I knew I had to say I was Eclectic, Eccentric and always Earthy in my profile. I know me well enough to know pidgeon-holing myself would never work for me. I need the freedom to write a poem one day, a fictional story the next, an opinion piece or information sharing.
I need freedom, period.
Fiction, creative non-fiction, verse, song, story, real life experience, whatever the label, I can’t limit my output. It would be, to me, akin to trying to put a wine cork in your ear. Wouldn’t feel very good, would it?
One of the wisest writing instructors I ever studied under was a man named Bill Burns who said a couple of things that stuck with me long past his teachings:
1. You should be able to write in a boiler room.
2. You should be able to write about anything.
As one of the most dimensional writers I know, he did both himself and he was right. I am still learning to master the art of writing with lots of flurry going on around me so don’t know that I’ll ever truly achieve that one but that won’t stop me from trying. Nor will I stop writing about anything and everything that happens to breeze through my psyche.
It’s just who I am and what I do.
How about you? Are you more comfortable writing in one genre or style? Do you prefer quiet or are you one of the lucky few who can simply “tune out” chaos around them to write steadfastly, no matter what?
(c) Dec 1 2011 JAuroraMorealist