I heard about some author once… and sadly with my terrible memory I don’t remember who it was or all the details… but the gist of it was she had always wanted to be a flight attendant and live in Hawaii and so for her first story she wrote about being a flight attendant and living in Hawaii. The problem with this is she didn’t know anything about either and the story bombed. She was given the same advice as I was given and what I’m passing on to you. Write what you know. She heeded the advice and went back and wrote another book at least famous enough for me to have heard this story. Now saying ‘write what you know’ may sound simple enough but it’s too often we think we know things and we really don’t. We may have some knowledge about various subjects but we don’t really know much at all because we have no personal experience to go with it.
This thought really all began with the fact that I was raised in the South. More so I lived my whole life in this one small town and didn’t really get out much. I read a lot and did pretty well in school, and so technically was familiar with all kinds of stuff that I had no experience in. But one thing in particular. Snow. I lived far enough north to occasionally get an inch or 2 and so I’d seen it, played in it, and thoroughly looked forward to it. I also always thought it would be cool to live somewhere where it snowed all the time, and much to my chagrin the Air Force granted me that wish. I got stationed in North Dakota and later Alaska. Before then, the thought of driving in a snow storm would have brought images of freezing to death, fear and panic, and all kinds of ‘I wouldn’t do that’. After spending about 6 years dealing with such that image no longer comes to mind. I was still ever so cautious but the main thoughts I had was of irritation at the people who thought they could speed on frozen roads and the humor when I got to see them later stuck in a ditch (still alive, wouldn’t laugh at someone seriously injured).
Now I’m back in the South and even though I spent a greater portion of my life here, I’ve become the one wearing T-shirts when everyone else is bundled up, and the thought of snow is neither fearful nor all that exciting. Today I found myself smirking about the fact that the whole world down here seems on the verge of panic and everything’s getting ready to shut down over… and I’m not exaggerating… 2 inches of snow… that hasn’t even come yet. That’s right. 2 whole inches. I’m not truly laughing at such because the fact is the South sees so little snow that they don’t have the equipment to clear the roads and people just aren’t used to having to deal with it. It amazes me to think that states just a days drive apart have totally different lives and different views on the world just because of the frequency that they get to see the white fluffy stuff.
My point is that even though I still haven’t really left the US, the parts I’ve experienced have greatly altered my view on things I never would’ve considered. A few years ago, if I had decided to write about living up north there would be so much about it that would’ve never crossed my mind. Like how hard it is to push a buggy full of groceries through the snow. Why would I think of such? I do now having done it. But that’s also another reason I want to go out and really discover all the world has to offer. Not just learn about surviving in frigid temperatures. But about different cultures and people. Because the more I learn the more I realize how little I really do know and how much I want to discover more. That way when I write I’ll have all kinds of things to talk about.