Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Who - and What - You Know

I have had the great fortune over the past fews years to become acquainted with my favorite living novelist.  We’ve never talked about my aspirations, and indeed we’ve barely talked at all, but I have seen her in her own world, and I think it sort of changed my life.

Whereas I was once humbled by her insight into exotic subjects, I’ve since learned that many of these subjects are simply part of her world, no more exotic to her than my career expertise is to me. Whereas I once thought her ideas had an other-worldly wisdom to them, I’ve since learned them to be natural extrapolations of her experience.

In other words: she writes what she knows. Nothing is more reassuring to an aspiring author than confirmation that a regular person might just know something that will matter to others.

Of course, she also writes very, very well. But even in this, knowing her is reassuring. She, like me, always wanted to write, but had a family and a career first. She, like me, had no formal training. She, like me, is not a literary writer and hardly knows what that means. She, like me, prefers reading different genres than she writes. She, like me, is interested in a lot of things besides writing.

Maybe it should be no surprise that I’m drawn to her novels. Nonetheless, I find it endlessly surprising and delightful and inspiring that the creator of works I find so very eye-opening and fundamentally worthwhile is, ultimately, just a person, like me.