Friday, April 17, 2015

Write what you know. Where is the line?

Write what you know
might need an addendum.
Never stop learning.
Expand what you know.
Research, discover, 
Meet people different from you.

I've no problems with researching facts for a novel, or finding an expert on the topic to ensure I've got it right.

But unless I want to move to a different place for years so I grasp the culture and behaviors of a different group of people, should I ever write about them? Am I capable of writing about them in any meaningful way? 

For example, before wandering off to Australia, I did a lot of research about the country. However, when I arrived and actually met some Aborigines, I realized the research hadn't helped in the least. I had no clue what was going on in their heads as they stared at me.

To be honest, I was only marginally better at understanding the Aussies. 

Never, in either case, could I possibly write an authentic story which included them in any meaningful way. And when I went to New Zealand, same thing, both with the Maoris and Kiwis. It would take me years, living among them to understand what they are thinking, and if you don't know their thoughts, then how can you write about them in any meaningful way?

Some authors have been fortunate to live in a multicultural environment, and can write beautiful stories that cross cultures. Devika Fernando is one such author. 

I truly envy her knowledge, because every time I've written a cross cultural story with anything other than Americans, Englishmen, and Irishmen, it results in a shameful lack of understanding sufficient to cause a war.

Fortunately, in today's publication world, authors like Devika can fill in the blanks for those like me who cannot.

But is that just an easy pass on my part. Should I at least strive to better understand more about the other races at least in my own country? And what about other religions? Or should I continue to write what I currently know. Am I being safe, a realist, or a coward?

I would love your opinion.

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