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If you want to meet new people,
don't keep writing about the old ones.
Our first American moon landing seems like ancient history. I began teaching high school English the year before. Like most people I've grown tired of the phrase "just sayin'," but...just sayin'.
For a good long time I implored my composition students to write about what they knew. Somewhere along the way I changed my mind. I'm not saying I was wrong before: it's just that a dogmatic approach like that deters prospective writers from taking risks. I hope when I told them to write what they know, they were dreaming about the prom or homecoming. There's a good chance of that.
Authors don't cruise the streets looking for people to write about. I doubt that Herman Melville was fresh out of ideas until he bumped into a one-legged ship's captain and beamed, "Oooh, I'll write about him."
Can I also say that, even though the act of writing is not always fun, it's a hell of a lot more fun to write about things you don't know...or didn’t know and now do. Thanks, Wikipedia.
And if you need an inspirational quote, try this one from British novelist E. M. Forster:
How do I know what I think until I see what I write?
Forster died 50 years before social media, but he did anticipate the time when people would write first and think afterward. He would have been okay with that, so long as they didn't share that "writing" until it made sense.
So start making sense—get those thoughts on paper or your laptop. Sitting around wondering what to write about is worse than not writing at all. Start in—you'll meet some fascinating people.
I first met Francis McNally by chance in 2013 when he was filling in a narrative, serving the purpose minor characters often serve. Now he's the protagonist of Northward and the soon-to-be-released Crossing. I didn't ask him to be a protagonist. He just became one.
Some interesting people are waiting to meet you. Don't keep them waiting.
And when it's time to share, start here.
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