I want to write what I know

New view of the Pillars of Creation — visible

(This post is meant to shed more light on the writing explanation for my cosmorphosis)

Since I officially decided to become a writer about three years ago I’ve written five books, three of which I love and want to publish. But in the summer after I had finished my fifth book I had a dilemma. I had enough practice writing novels from ideas that just came from nowhere (dreams, conversations with Ben, new articles online) and I wanted my next book to reflect the story I really wanted to tell. So I sat down and made a huge, sprawling mind map chart to outline all the things I was most interested in. Then I tried combining different concepts to make a full idea. It was a painful process (mostly because I often worry an idea will never come) but finally something presented itself.

An idea I loved.

An idea I felt could truly represent a lot of the things I cared about most and struggled with.

But then I realized that although the emotional aspect of the story was something I could definitely authoritatively write about, the technicalities of the story weren’t within the scope of my knowledge. I wanted to write a story that was essentially a love letter to the universe, but I didn’t have the understanding of the universe I needed/wanted to really get my point across.

I wanted to write what I know, but I didn’t know what I wanted to write.

So I decided to go back to school. Specifically to audit a course in astronomy and when I got there I realized it wasn’t enough. Sure it was nice to have a basic understanding of certain astronomical phenomena, but I wanted to know everything I possibly could about the birth and future death of the universe. How can you write a love letter to someone if you don’t know the person you’re writing to?

So I’m going back to school.

Maybe it’s taking the idea of research for a novel a little far, but obviously I have other reasons for doing it too. I’m not satisfied with the basics, I want to know the whole story. I want my love letter to the universe to encompass more than just one novel. I want to write thousands of stories in thousands of different ways to illuminate the mystery, wonder and sheer insanity of the cosmos.

I want to write what I know and I’m excited to figure out how.


(Image from the Hubble Space Telescope depicting the Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation)


Write Whatcha Know


Your life is fascinating.

No no, you say.  My life is boring, dull, I haven’t gone anywhere, done anything.  Not really…

One time when I was in Scotland and I was looking around, wide eyed with wonder.  I was raving about the wild hills, the ancient castles, the way the dark stone gleamed and the green moss sparkled like magic.  A local looked at me with a bored sort of expression and shrugged.  “It’s no big deal,” he said.  I was shocked.  How could he possibly think all that untamed beauty was no big deal?  He was acclimatized.

You are the Scottish local, acclimatized to your life.  We all do it.  When I was a bit younger I had some crazy times and now when I look back it all feels a bit…mundane.  But it’s my job as a writer to make sure I remember it isn’t.  It’s your job too.

Remember that, just because you have lived your life and are used to it, doesn’t mean other people have.  Humans are a nosey lot, they want to peer into other lives, other moments that aren’t their own, find the juicy bits and chew on them.  Your juicy bits are in there, I promise.

I’m currently writing a book tentatively called ‘A Girl Out There’, it’s a story of a girl hitch hiking through America.  I was a hitch hiker once, around Europe.  So I’m having the time of my life writing this book and finding juicy tidbits from my time on the road, embellishing them, changing them up and incorporating them.  It allows me to go back in time and gather up all the things that made me who I am.  A ride down memory lane.

So maybe you didn’t hitch hike around Europe (probably for the best), but I’m positive you have done other fantastic and amazing things.  It doesn’t matter how grand, or small they might be, your experiences make you who you are and that is a story well worth telling.

When we write we allow ourselves to share our voice and this is what people want to read.  People want to feel like they have a connection to us, because they’re acclimatized to themselves and want to hitch a ride with someone else for a change.

Tell me how you write what you know.