As a man, I’ve never told a woman which brand or type of tampon to use. The reason seems obvious. But just in case it isn't, men don’t use tampons. I know, I know. Big surprise.
So, someone who doesn’t write as a profession, or at any level besides penning a to do list, shouldn’t suggest whether I’m capable of writing or not. But this particular person's assumption is pandemic through the literary world, both expert and not.
When meeting new people, the natural question is to ask, “What do ya do?” I usually answer, writer. That’s cuz I spend a lot of my free time writing, thinking about my story, fantasizing about my characters, their emotional state, dialogue, everything that has to do with the current novel that I’m working on. Whether that makes me a professional or not, having yet to earn a living from it, is up for debate.
On an amazing hike, an older gentleman questioned whether I could be a good writer. And it wasn’t because he’d read anything of mine, but looked at me and asked whether I’ve lived an interesting life and had enough life experience. Even if all I do is work, go to the gym, write, and go out on the weekends...hmm...that is what I do...I can imagine an interesting story.
I could feel my ego jump outta my skin and want to rip this guy to shreds, not literally of course, just figuratively, because the notion that a writer has to write what they know is preposterous. Do writers have to do research? Damn straight. But does that mean Jeff Lindsay has to be a serial killer in order to be able to write convincingly about Dexter? I don’t know the man, but I highly doubt it. What he knows about, what we all know about if we let ourselves, is the darkness that can live within us. And with a little research, he can write a well told story about the need and addiction to kill.
So does that mean a child or a teenager is incapable of writing about darkness? No. The amount of cyber bullying and random school shootings suggests that darkness can live within us at seemingly any age.
Well, darkness and hatred is an easily accessible emotion. Having taken many years of acting, I can attest that’s true. What about love? Can youths write about love? For sure!
Adults call youthful lust puppy love. But that only degrades their emotion as less intense and real. Remembering my crushes during my formidable years, I was traumatized when girls didn't like me, and in some ways, that has carried over to my adult life. We know youngens love just as much as adults do. I mean, look at the young adult book market, it’s massive. And Twilight wasn’t the start of it all, but being one of the biggest best sellers indicates the voracity of young love. I've also met a lot of grown men who've yet to grow up. Trust me. We ain't dat mature when it comes to women.
There’s one main point that I’m trying to make here. Don’t argue for your limitations, and no one is an expert on you but you. You wanna do something, follow your dreams, pursue a passion, do something that people have said you can’t? Good. And fuck the naysayers. Failure is when you argue for your own limitations. Success isn’t determined for the weak-hearted. Often, it takes strength and courage to follow your dreams. Whether you make it or not can’t be a determinate of your success—says the unpublished novelist—but to quit or to not start are true failures. To use a simple example, you have to be in it to win it.