Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Write What You Know

A few questions that come to my mind when I reflect on O’Connor’s stories are: why does she write with these characters, and why have put them in the setting of the rural South or, at least, have characters come from there? She seems more than capable as a writer to be able to write using different scenery and characters like some of her colleagues and, more to the point, away from where she grew up. So why would she use characters that could have been, and more than likely were, in her everyday world?
I think the answer to these questions is reasonable. She grew up and lived in Georgia most of her life. This was the case with her faith, Catholicism, as well. She did go off to Iowa and Connecticut but she could not escape where she lived, especially when you have a thick Georgia accent. The questions I have to ask, in contrast to the prior questions, are: What does she know well? Would it not make more sense to write about characters that are a part of her, like her accent? One of the reasons why she was able to write her stories as well as she did was because her characters and their scenery are connected to her in more ways than one, like: they are all from or live in the southern country, they all have some sort of religious background or agenda, etc. Obviously, she did not have these extremes like her characters, but the connections are still there.
What I have learned through this idea is kind of selfish on my part: I am thinking about how I write and what exactly I write about. From this perspective, I take away the notion that I need to write what I know. In hindsight, this seems like a very obvious lesson that everyone already knows. In any case, this is what I figured out on my own time. I feel like there is nothing wrong with experimenting with different forms and ideas but it should only be mixed in with what I already know and/or what I have experienced.

1 comment:

  1. There is a definite sense of place, though often rendered unrecognizable. Digging down rather than out.