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Write What You Want To Know.

April 6, 2020

I don't usually read novels. I read a lot plays and film scripts but very rarely novels. I read a lot of non-fiction. I see it as how I grapple with the world; learning about other peoples experiences and big ideas. Usually these books become plays or films or what ever... But anyway I just read 3 novels as my last 3 books and I got really fucked off with them because at least one of them was a breath taking waste of space. One was quiet good and the other was fine.

 

There's an old adage in Art that says "write what you know" and two of these books were about being a white straight 20 something in London from the North not quite knowing if they should be in London and wondering if their "friends at home" were happier than them. Now I know, from being a white straight 20 something in London, that this feels like what "everyone is going through" but the reality is that the population of the UK is like... 64 million. London is 8 million and I think I'm right in saying that a fair share are from London, haven't been to uni and moved there, aren't heterosexual, and/ or are non-white. Simply writing about this experience makes your work irrelevant to the mass population. Write what you know doesn't mean "document your emotional and physical experience" it means "identify the universal question that you're experiencing it and work through it from your unique perspective". You don't have to write what you know; you use what you know to work out what you'd like to know. And in working that out your work becomes useful.

 

Beyond that we need to ask ourselves simple questions when we're making shit; would anyone I know actually enjoy this? Would anyone I don't know pick up ethical, moral, representative problems with this? We need to talk to people to work out these questions in order to make something that is useful in asking big universal questions and something that is useful socially. Just documenting your experience isn't enough (well it might be but not if you're a straight white posh fuck taking drugs in Hackney Wick and wondering if you're better than anyone else).

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