“Write what you know.”
Some days, that advice is a hindrance.
I have—at least for now—no interest in writing a novel about what it’s like to be living in Sydney, Australia, in 2012. It might be what I “know” but I have no passion for it.
My ambitions exceed my ability, and perhaps I’ll never complete the project, but I’m working on something that requires me to imagine being a different gender and living in another country, in another era. Only a passionate interest in the subject and people I have in mind keeps me going when I have other responsibilities, worries, distractions and doubts. Perhaps I’d do a better job if I stuck to “what I know”, but I’d never persevere with it. I may be a fool but I’d rather be a fool with a passion than a confident writer who doesn’t care about the subject at hand.
I admire the pluckiness of a young writer who flatly rejected the advice to stick to familiar ground. Ashleigh Mounser has won The Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year award for 2012 and I hope her imagination takes her far. Congratulations on your courage, Ashleigh!