William Sansom wrote, "A writer lives, at least, in a state of astonishment. Beneath any feeling he has of the good or evil of the world lies a deeper one of wonder at it all. To transmit that feeling, he writes."
Like the rest of the aspiring authors seated before this man of Great Wisdom and Fame, I was clueless. At age eighteen, my playing field was, well… limited. Boy-girl relationships, parental challenges, teachers and school, trips, summer camp, sports competitions…
That was about it. So… what will you write about?
Everything I had just listed to myself sounded as dull as dishwater.
Adding to my frustration was piece of advice that I’d long discarded as corny that popped into my head at just that moment when my mind went blank and I was unable to respond to the professor’s “what” question.
From an early age, I had always devoured every book I could get my hands on that had a protagonist with a passion to become a writer. Usually these girls and boys had mentors and they all gave the same piece of advice to aspiring writers. How many writing handbooks had I devoured that started and ended with that advice? Tattooed into my brain was the statement:
Write from your experience.
If I lacked experience at the young age of 18, wasn’t it my responsibility to start collecting some? Travel to the Orient, India, South Africa? Back-pack across the Mohave Desert, climb Mount Kilimanjaro… hang out with the aborigines, or get lost in an Amazon rain forest?
I still wasn’t getting it because I was looking outside rather than going within, to visit myself at deeper levels.
What will you write about? I needed to learn how to dish pan.