Don’t Write What You Know! Sheesh!

Kenyon ledford's Blog

You know what I hate? Well, yeah, the Seattle Seahawks. You know what else I hate? Aspiring writers spewing cliches about writing. During a session with one of my Southern California writers’ groups a few years ago, an older woman shared a few chapters of a fictional piece set in Boston.

While I thought the east coast imagery was great, the chapters could definitely have used some improvement. So what was the first bit of criticism? A writer from Milwaukee sneered out this beauty: “I think, maybe, you should write what you know. I mean, if you live in California, don’t try to write about Boston.”

While the woman said nothing at the time, she later told me that she grew up in Boston. Mark Twain, it is accepted, said, “Write what you know.” Because I love Mark Twain, I would accept anything he said about writing. Not this time…

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