>Write what you know

>Write what you love

I would take issue with this dictum. I’ve tried writing about swimming, horseback riding, roller derby, even about writing, and I soon find myself lost in a terrible maze of emotion, anecdote, and wishful thinking disguised as advice.

I’m much better at addressing a specific question—Is this bridle on right? (Yes.) Am I crawl-stroking correctly? (Twist your body more.) Did it hurt when I knocked you down? (There are no apologies in derby, but since you ask, yes, it hurt like sin.) Do you understand that my character, a stoner dwarfish thief from the mountains, is in love with the moon? (No, but here’s what you can do to punch it up so the reader gets it.)

Rudyard Kipling was a genius at writing about what he didn’t know. But of course he was a newspaperman. He said that anyone was capable of giving him ten minutes’ worth of fascinating shop talk. Once he had heard that ten minutes, he had enough for a story about (say) steamfitting, a story that made every steamfitter who read it shed a tear and say, Yeah, he sure knows his stuff. He also believed that, unless you had a great white whale in your sights, those ten minutes were sufficient, because no reader would put up with more shop talk than that.

So he’s saying, think cocktail-party neep. Chatting-up-the-girl neep. Grumbling-in-pubs neep.

In a sense it’s almost impossible for me to write coherently about my current passions. I need distance. And even then it’s not going to be the truth. Just the truth for today.