Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Write What You Know
"Write what you know." This is another of Dr. Dorner's mantras that I have come to know well. As a fiction writer, however, this is a little tricky. How can you write about leprechauns and World War II if you haven't seen them?
Tangent (I will get back to the mantra): As I have explored literary criticism and the philosophy of the intentional fallacy (what the author intended in the art or writing), I ponder art, what I consider art, how I define art, and what good writing is intended to be.
The author's intent does matter on some level--but good intentions that are unsuccessful go nowhere. We all know this. If you intend to write a great novel, that really means nothing if you keep writing notes on cocktail napkins.
We can have the best intentions in every word we write, but if those intentions do not come across on the page, then the writing is only effective for the author. Hence why some blogs (not this one) and diaries are not considered to be great reading: the intention may be a great thought or idea, but the author may be writing for himself/herself. If anyone doesn't get it, that's because the author's intent is more or less to write ideas down.
The best writing, I believe, intertwines the author's intent with a universal application to others, so that others can share the meaning with the author. When the authorial intent overlaps and communicates with readers (dare I say reader response?) then the author is not only doing an effective job of writing but also sending a universal message.
Find the universal message you know. Write that. Write what you know and understand in the fibers of your being because you can research the rest of about World War II and make up the rest about leprechauns. Share the universal messages that you have learned in the crux of who you are. Tell the message so many people can understand.
And make the message something worth sharing.