Writing From Experience
I’ve read many writing magazines over the years. Over and over, articles hash out the advice to write what you know. As someone who writes and reads fantasy and science fiction, I’ve struggled with what that meant. Do you have to be a murderer to write mysteries? If you’ve never been in space or met a unicorn, are you out of luck?
The answer to that is to find your inner truth, your own experiences, and then apply them to your imagination. You’ve never met a unicorn (well, I’m assuming here) but you’ve touched the velvety warmth of a horse’s nose, seen the stick-like legs of a deer bounding away in fright and walked through the tall grass of a meadow in spring. Pulling that all together to create a story about something imaginary is writing what you know.
Now I’m writing about what I know in my career. I’m struggling a bit. How can my unique set of experience become something more universal, more applicable to librarians in many situations? Doubt sets in as to whether I know enough to share anything at all. I’m not from a prestigious college, I don’t teach classes in librarianship, I don’t have the answers to solve the vexing problems that small library managers face daily. Who am I to tell fellow librarians anything? Do I have any wisdom to impart? Ah. But I have made many mistakes. I can share those. I can share what I have cobbled together by trial and error. I can put forth my opinions, formed through experience. I will write what I know, and hope that will be enough.