― Thomas Jefferson
As a middle child I’ve always been one to “go along to get along”. For middle children where I grew up, this was the way of doing things. You acquiesced. You were considered the peacemaker, which mostly meant you gave in to the wishes or demands of others. The older kids, were…well, older and therefore deserved to have a say. The younger kids were…younger, and therefore deserved some type of special treatment.
I never understood it, but being a middle child, I went along with the practice.
Today, things are different. Everyone wants to have a say.
Sometimes I view this attitude as entitlement. Sometimes I perceive the the attitude to be immature, selfish or spoiled. But today, I am less likely to go along to get along.
When it comes to my writing I understand that if I am not willing to go along to get along, in other words to write what they ask for, that I may be unable to sell what I write.
Of all the advice that writers receive, write what you know is most certainly the best advice. But I have to tell you “write what you love” is the advice that will serve you over the long term.
When we write what we know, and what inspires us we take our writing to a whole new level. This is the essence of “voice”, where a writers passion shines through. It is sometimes this little spark–writing what we love–that brings our talent to the forefront, allows us to reach a broader audience.
When writers combine writing what they know with writing what they love, the end result is success. For example, Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels that inspired HBO’s True Blood Series, wrote what she knew (Southern Louisiana)combined with something she loved (Vampires with human failings).
You cannot fault this recipe for success. Enthusiasm for a beloved event or period of time influences the most mediocre situation. Passion always shines through the storytelling.
Do not, of course ignore the essentials of good storytelling: Memorable characters, good grammar, engaging setting, good story structure, and a well developed plot line. Harris combined what she knew on multiple levels, Ten years of publishing experience with familiar setting and quirky characters. The timeless themes of looking for love and acceptance brought millions of viewers to the series and expanded the books sales.
Success comes from writing what you know mixed with something you are passionate about.