by Thea Constantine
It’s always a treat when you can add a dose of personal expertise to your work. The knowledge and trivia we pick up along the way in our day-to-day lives can help us forge a bond with our readers. Whether it’s passing on an obscure or unusual piece of medical or legal information or simply sharing the frustrations of being stuck in a mind-numbing day job, these are great tools and certainly reasons to “write what you know.”
Writing what you know can help keep a fledgling writer from biting off more than she can chew. Choosing to write your first novel from an astrophysicist’s point of view with no firsthand science background could end in tears. On the other hand, if you love research and work to gain access to people in that field, you could be the next Ray Bradbury.
If all writers stayed within the boundaries of what they knew, we’d have no Shakespeare, no Ursula Le Guin, Mary Shelly or Edgar Allen Poe.
What would you do if you weren’t a writer, or if you had time to pursue a second career, or a third? Chances are whatever you choose can be a great starting point for a writing project. Think back to some of the answers you gave as a child when people asked what you wanted to be when you grew up. Who were you for Halloween?
One advantage of these new, virtual career choices is that you’re not necessarily bound by real life drawbacks. Not only can you choose to be a doctor or a lawyer, you can finally go for Indian chief. And that’s just the positive role models. Cat burglar and evil queen definitely have their appeal. Maybe you’d like to pair a dream career with a dream location?
Try making a list of dream jobs and go from there. Find the one that calls to you and go for it. Like any new job, it may seem awkward at first, but soon it will be as familiar as anything else on your resume. Try on a few new hats and come tell us what you found.
Thea Constantine is a writer and certified AWA facilitator with PDX Writers. Her short stories have most recently appeared in In Focus, the quarterly magazine of the PEN Cyprus Center; Stellazine; Roving Writers; “On the Yellow Line,” a weekly column for Street Roots; and an original serial for the online magazine The Black Boot. Her work has been included in a number of anthologies. She just won 1st Place Short Story in the maiden edition of the Watercress Journal. She is currently at work on her first novel, Stumptown.