Writing Chronicles, Vol. 4

I feel like I’ve finally found my groove. Ever since I established this writing goal of essentially doing NaNoWriMo over the course of three month, I’ve been writing more than ever. At first I had some trouble decided which story to run with during this writing time because I have two stories that have been battling out in my head, but I’m really happy with my choice. I’ve plotted out the whole narrative, even going as far as writing out plot points on index cards as an easy way to look at the story all at once. This also allows me to move and order things different without making a mess out of a word document. As I write more and more, I’m getting into the heads of my characters—learning and crafting their personalities. However, I have been questioning myself: Is it okay to write about something I myself have never experienced?

I’ve had writing teachers tell me: Write what you know. I’ve had others tell me the complete opposite: Write what you don’t know. So where do I go? My novel has to do with sexual assault and the abuse of power and authority in the dance community. Thank God, I have never had to experience this, but it’s not uncommon and more and more people are coming forward with their stories. The #MeToo movement is at the forefront of not only pop culture and the entertainment community, but the political climate as well. At every turn, men and women are finding their voices. As an observer of all this, I’m angry. I feel so much for these people who have to go through these inexcusably situations and who are too afraid to speak up and speak out.

This is something I want to explore, but I want to do it in the most respectful way. Do I have the authority or the right to dive into such an issue if I have no experience? If I do my research, am I “allowed” to contribute to the discussion? Is it not my place and I need to leave it to the professionals? The last thing I want to do is hurt or offend. Obviously, I’m not the first writer to tackle a subject they personally haven’t experienced. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic of “writing what you don’t know.”

 

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