My archived blog “With Ink from the Pink Pen” can be found https://colettemccormickonbooksandlifeingeneral.wordpress.com/. However, rather than trying to keep two places going I thought that I’d blog here from now on. The other site is still live though if you want to pop over and see the things that I’ve blogged about in the past.
Deciding What to Write About
Almost everyone will familiar with the saying that when it comes to writing, you should write “what you know.” Sounds like good advice and it’s fine and dandy of you’re a lawyer, a detective, a doctor etc. Any of those chosen professions would give you a base to work from. I’m sure that John Grisham’s career as a lawyer came in very handy when it came to writing his legal thrillers. So, I ask, what do you write about when your career span has been ledger clerk, through Playgroup Leader, School Dinner Lady and retail manager? How about a book where someone who serves dinners in a nursery discovers that her local shop keeper is fiddling the books? That piqued your interest? Thought not.
There’s no doubt that I could research police work, medicine or whatever but would it feel authentic? I know some writers manage it but I’m not sure that I could, not a this stage anyway. I once had an idea for a book that involved a police investigation and I love the idea but when I actually came to write it, even though I’d done a lot of research I wasn’t confident that I’d got it right so that idea is tucked away at the back of my brain and will probably never see the light of day which is a pity because the first chapter was a corker.
But, having said all of the above, I do write about what I know because what I know is people. Apart from when I was a ledger clerk which involved me being in a dusty office on my own, all of my jobs have involved people, albeit ordinary people, and for me they are the most interesting subject of all. Not everyone can be beautiful in the way the media portray it and not every muscle bound man bald man is a secret gangster/drug dealer etc. Ordinary people come in all shapes and sizes and most of them have very ordinary jobs and lives but that doesn’t stop them from having stories to tell.
All of my books are about ordinary people. In Things I Should Have Said and Done, Ellen is dead and struggling to deal with it, Susan in Ribbons In Her Hair is an unmarried mother facing a uncertain future, in Not My Brother’s Keeper Rob and Tom are two brothers who have a woman in common and Daniel is An Uncomplicated Man whose life changes the day that he meets the daughter of a client. All just ordinary people with their own story to tell.
So, my advice to anyone who wants to write is listen to what that wise person once said and write what you know – it makes sense.
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