Friday, March 13, 2009

hello, Its Friday. TGIF

I only managed to edit my little flash piece yesterday and didn't get any other writing done. This weekend is shot as well. I hope I can flesh out my next chapter this afternoon.

K.C. brought up a topic that we delved into a couple of times in my Creative writing class. What are we allowed to write about. The obvious answer is 'anything we want.' but the reality of it is we can't. I mentioned that I was going to write the story of a black albino hermaphrodite living in Iran. It might make for an interesting story although I have no background or experience with any of them. I have never been to Iran. I don't personally know any Iranians. I did know a black albino in college, he was a quiet guy so I never go the chance to talk to him. As far as I know I have never met a hermaphrodite. How could I possibly write the story?

I haven't met any ghosts either, or vampires or zombies (although I can come pretty damn close after a sleepless night) but I still manage to write about them. I have never come across a soldier bent on killing anyone he calls a traitor but I have written about that as well. I don't know the ins and outs of time travel. . .you get the picture. Is it because these people really exist? Are we supposed to be so sensitive to the human condition that we can only write of reality when it is a reality we have taken on ourselves (even then I fear someone will misconstrue it as misguided, thoughtless, or at the least naive)

Or do we continue to write everything that pops into our heads, reguardless of the consequences. (Has anyone seen Salman Rushdie anywhere?)


Bobbie Metevier said...

Bravo! Excellent post!

I think it has to do with connecting emotionally. As corny as it sounds, we all love, hurt, need and want. When these things are incorporated you have the guy next door AND the Albino living in Iran.

Jamie Eyberg said...

Thanks Bobbie. Well said. Not corny at all. As writers we want to connect with an audience, because without that we have the loneliest job in the world.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

I actually think about that a lot, in writing as well as larger contexts. I think to become a really great artist (writer/painter/actor/mime/hooters girl/etc), you have to, on some level, divorce yourself from the human condition in order to step back and look at it objectively and understand motivation, etc.

I saved a link to a great interview with George Carlin right before he died, and a lot of what he says about not feeling part of the American experience resonates with me in that context. It explains a lot about why Carlin touched people, for better or worse, on such a deep level: he wasn't afraid of talking about the taboo topics because he exempted himself from the populations under scrutiny. It gave him the freedom to make an emotional connection to the things people feel but don't say.

Or, to paraphrase Hemingway: a good bullfighter makes the ring his own; a great bullfighter fights on the bull's turf.

K.C. Shaw said...

I agree with Bobbie, it's all about the characters and connecting with them. Of course, the more we know about other cultures and so forth, the more interesting our characters and settings become, but like you said in your post, I don't think any of us should self-censor and not write about people who aren't exactly like us. That would make for some pretty boring stories if we did.

Fox Lee said...

I think we can write about anyone we want, but sometimes research is in order. If the person is a human being, then we already know a lot about them. The question is the practical implications of their specific differences from ourselves.

You made a good point about vampires vs. hermaphrodite albinos. When something doesn't exist, you can make up whatever shit you want. Albinos, however, will be annoyed if you muck up something that is easily verifiable online.

I say write what moves you : )

Cate Gardner said...

I write about Americans all the time - I hope you don't hate me. :) Especially when I trip up and make you eat sponge or put the rubbish out.

Jamie Eyberg said...

Jeremy- I saw Carlin live twice and the show was genius both times.

K.C.- Thank you for the idea of the day.

Nat- absolutely!

Cate- We don't take any offense at all. I like to confuse my friends with colloquialisms from all over the world. ;)

BT said...

I write about whatever moves me. If I need to do some research then I make it as complete as I possibly can but in in the end I'm writing fiction and if it's believable then i think I've accomplished what I trying to do. You won't please everybody all the time.

Nat, what do you mean vampires don't exist...

As for writing about American's or more specifically, writing for American markets, I'm lucky enough to have readers who pick up things like that all the time and suggest different terms - invaluable.