Sunday, April 24, 2011

Writing what you know

So, I finally got to the part I'd been looking forward to...specifically, the hazing of Crystal.  In the interest of not spoiling too much of the plot I'll be general in my comments, but boy, is this part fun to write.  It springs from the fact that Crystal can't just jump right from being a human to being a god...she's got stuff to learn.  A LOT of stuff to learn, of course.  And sometimes the only way to teach a LOT of stuff is to use "alternative" teaching techniques.  Hazing, in other words.  Technically, it's not hazing in the traditional definition of hazing, but it's still not the most comfortable way to learn. 

I know this because I've been through it.  It seems like most of the learning points from the Army and the Infantry were so important, so "LOT"-worthy, that the Army's normal mode of teaching was the "alternative" mode.  It was rare, as I recall, for us to sit in comfortable, climate-controlled classrooms listening to the gentle lecture of a subject matter expert.  It was far more frequent that we were given requirements that obliquely taught us stuff that we needed to know...usually not in what would be considered a climate-controlled classroom, either. 

At least, that's how I remember it.  Thinking back, we really did spend a fair amount of time in traditional learning activities, but the ones that made the biggest impact on me, and thus stand fresher in my recall, were the other ones.  Maybe there really is something to it?

In any event, a great many authors, editors, and agents across several publications I've read preached the gospel of "Writing what you know."  It's important, as the truth of what you know comes out in a way that no level of research can really make up for.  Luckily for me, I know education.  I know teaching.  I know learning.  I know hazing, too.  What that does is make the writing of these passages fly by.  I don't plan what's going to happen; it just does, and it sounds good and right as I discover it at about 80 words per minute. 

So...while Crystal is going through a rough time, I hope all my friends out in the real world are having a happy Easter today, full of all the alcohol, chocolate, marshmallow, and pig parts that you all desire.  Tomorrow it's back to work, but today is a wonderful holiday.

Word Count:  21,615


  1. While writing what we know brings out our passion, I wonder if perhaps sometimes, much as in life, we need to reach past our comfort zone and explore new horizons....

  2. Cricket, you're correct. Some of this book has been beyond my comfort zone, hence the enormous amount of research I've had to do. But it's good to get back into that zone and just rock out the word count for a while.

  3. I find that I write best when I write about feelings that I know, which is kind of different from subject matter that I know, but still similar in other ways I suppose.