Two years ago I signed up and went to my first Writer's Conference. The experience was amazing and a bit intimidating. In one of the classes, the teacher said to "write what you know." As strange as it sounds, this was not reassuring at all. After all, what did I know? Why would anyone want to read anything I had to write anyway? I am not well traveled. I have never been outside the country, and only in twelve of the states and then only certain places in those states. I have never had a career. I got married my first year in college and because of financial lack and after a few years, children I have never finished more than an Associate of Arts degree. In this new to me world of published authors, editors, agents and people who seemed to know everything, I felt like I didn't know anything. That whole first year I did my best to follow the advice from the conference and from the writer's group that I also joined. I still felt like a child surrounded by giants, like I would never have anything meaningful to contribute to my group, much less the world.
So over the course of the next year I decided to figure out what it is I know. The teacher at that first conference also said that imagination is something you know. I love that! Albert Einstein said, "Logic will get you from A to Z, imagination will get you everywhere." I could work with that.
I began to make lists of things I know. Sometimes I would write something down that I know, but wasn't confident about. Horses comes to mind. I was raised out of town on horse property my entire childhood. Much to my mom's stress, my dad took me out tucked into one of his over-sized coat pockets on horseback when I was two weeks old and I rode pretty much every day of my life afterwards until I graduated from High School. All of my education of horses is personal experience and a couple of years of 4-H. This sounds great, but my knowledge was habit, routine and whatever is in the blood of horse people. I had no polished education, so when people questioned what I knew, I began to doubt. Perhaps the doubt also came from having been away from the horse and country scene for 23 years. Whatever the case I had to find a way to figure out if I really knew about horses. So I went to my sister who still has horses, and I found that it was still in there, and now, I can articulate what I know! So exciting!
I won't go on forever about what I know, it may not be much, but enough to bore you to tears in this format. One final thing I will mention is what keeps me from writing the most, but gives me most of my inspiration and that would be children. I have been a mom for over twenty years, given birth nine times and raised more kids than I can count-not all of them mine biologically. No one on this Earth will ever be able to tell me that I don't know about kids or being a mom.
Now that I have rambled my way around I will get to the point. Somewhere out there, someone else may feel this same way, maybe that they don't have much to contribute or that they don't know much. I want to say that this isn't true. We have all been given a voice, and if you have a desire to write, it is a gift, you know all you need to know because your experiences and your imagination. One of my favorite authors and a mentor for writing- even though he doesn't know it is Dr. Seuss. He put it this way
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where you go... " from Oh the Places You'll Go
So take courage, believe in yourself and write what, where, and when you can. I'm rooting for you!