I am a writer who doesn’t know shit. I’ve never been out of Texas. I haven’t even been in the best parts of Texas. I get up, go to work, go home, go to sleep. I’m the most boring person I think anyone could ever meet. I’m so boring, in fact, that I have to create drama in my life by being an anxious and sensitive little shit.
It’s been said that reading a book gives the brain a memory-like experience, as if you’d lived the story yourself. That’s pretty good. I’ve written a few books just based on the things I’ve read and watched in the past. But books, like art, cannot be self referencing like that. Without real experience and observation, everything becomes cliche and flat.
For instance, if you base all your hispanic characters off of characters in movies and books you’ve read, you’re stereotyping. You have to have a real amount of personal references to draw from.
A writer’s job doesn’t stop or even start with reading and writing. That’s a minimal part of being a writer. A writer’s primary job is to Live. You have to take chances and fail and feel and hurt or you won’t be able to put it on paper.
When they say to write what you know, they don’t mean to just write about your boring every day life. They mean for you to go out and live something worth writing.
For that, I’ve got a plan for this summer and for every summer after that. For my birthday this year, I’m going to Galveston to see the ocean. I’ve written about the ocean several times without ever having been there. I want to fly on a plane next summer, maybe go to California. I’m going to travel and have adventures and experience things.
I’ve loved enough and hurt enough that I have plenty to write about. I’ve failed enough to have things to write about.
But I need settings. Not everything can be set in my little college town in Texas. There needs to be change and movement.
Since writers are supposed to write what they know and I plainly don’t know shit, it’s time for me to travel and have some adventures of my own.