Write what you know. I have no idea who first said it, but every writer has heard this age old advice.
I’ve been hanging around this life for a long time, yet I’ll be the first to admit there is a whole lot more I don’t know than what I do. Still, I do know what I know and I’m getting more than a little P.O’d at people who don’t know me from Eve offering their opinion on what I can and cannot write with authority—or more to the point, telling me what I don’t have the right to write.
I’m a woman, a daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother and grandmother. I’m told I can write about my experience of those life roles, but I cannot write about the people who define the role itself, without first getting their permission—and maybe not even then. I can write a drop dead funny essay on being married for more than half my life, as long as I can pull it off without mentioning my husband (either one of them). Ditto for being a sister but not mentioning my siblings, a friend with no friends I can speak of and a mother and grandmother with no mention of my progeny, whether issued from my womb or those I was compelled to claim by marriage.
I’m pretty sure I can write about my parents, because they are both dead now. And also my step-son who died in a tragic, preventable car accident. No wait; I have written about that and was attacked for it. Perhaps I was expected to hold a seance first to get his permission.
Following this twisted logic, there would be no In Cold Blood, Mommy Dearest, Angela’s Ashes, Tuesdays With Morrie, Call the Midwife . . . there would be no Orange is the New Black for gods’ sake!
I find it amusing, really, when the Twitter trolls and Facebook fiends come blustering around my pages and posts. It’s as if they think they have something to offer beyond the myopic opinions that have been bouncing around their echo chambers like super balls let loose in a room full of trampolines—with low ceilings. It’s like they think I care what they say.
There’s a little right in this country called free speech that let’s me write whatever the hell I want to, and to the trolls and fiends reading this—yes, writing is included in speech.
In the words of Anne Lamott I “own everything that has happened to [me]”, my story is mine to tell including my interpretation of the people in it with me. If any of them “expect [me] to write warmly about them” then they damn well should “behave better.”
As for the trolls and fiends, if you think it pisses you off when I write about people you don’t even know, wait until you see how it feels when I write about you—because, screen capture!