A few days ago my husband and I were grilling shrimp and scallops and were inspired to make a dipping sauce with the meager contents of our end-of-the-week refrigerator.
But the point of this tale (pun entirely intended) was not to remind my husband of his newest food lust (New Orleanians don’t have scallops–the Gulf’s too warm) but rather to make a point that as writers, we can often do best with what we have in our stockpile of ingredients: our histories, our passions, our voices, our fears, our dreams, our loves.
Too often the trends in popular fiction can get the best of us. We writers scour the blogs and read every tidbit of industry news that might reveal some leveraging hint to the next, or even current, big thing, and we may even feel that fleeting urge to cast our true voices and storylines to the wind in favor of the flavor of the year. We know there’s no use in it–the tail never wags the dog–but still the temptation is there.
Now we all know the adage: write what you know. What about the adage: write with what you have? I’ve read authors of many genres (Chuck Palahniuk, John Irving, Clive Barker, to name a few) whose writing moves me deeply and even sometimes leaves me wanting to try my hand at a similar prose, or themes. But we all come to find what it is that we have in our writer’s toolbox, the voice that is ours, and ours alone. The voice we have, the stories we have.
So write with what you have, write often and rewrite more often than that. And when you want to take a well-deserved break, feel free to send me any and all scallop recipes you have handy. My husband will thank you.