Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Write What You Know When You Know It

I’ve been reading a lot of young adult/middle grade novels in the past six months.  At heart, I’m a 13-year-old girl.  At any rate, I fell in love with Chris Crutcher's books, thus the following interview.  His works definitely reflect the maxim “Write what you know.”  There’s no doubt his chosen career provided him with lots of story ideas.  It almost couldn’t help but do so. 

But those of us who live decidedly less exciting lives probably sit at our computers, befuddled, thinking Nothing ever happens to me.  Maybe it’s true, maybe not.  But the thing is we have to scratch beneath the surface.  There are kernels of stories in everything that’s ever happened to us, everything we’ve heard.

A short time ago, I participated in a workshop led by Hester Bass, author of The Secret World of Walter Anderson.  She indicated that we should always be on the lookout—that an ancient family story might just lay the foundation for one of our own.  So simple.  Suddenly an idea struck, and I jotted it down; even so, I nearly forgot about it until a few weeks later when I faced my computer, thinking, What should I write today?  And it came to me with a jolt.  

What started as a picture book morphed into a 25,000 word novel.  I didn’t know I had it in me.

Write what you know when you know it.

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