This post was originally born from rage after reading the strong, wise words of Wheeloffortune-Design, and with that rage my primary thoughts were…obscured for some. So I’m rewriting this to clarify what I mean by write your desire, and it has to do with write what you know.
And that doesn’t mean what people think it means.
I need not be a carpenter to write about carpenters. I need not be male to write about men, I do not have to be a wizard, LGBTQIA+, or autistic to write characters who are any or all of these things.
What I need to be is empathetic and complicit — and by complicit I mean listen to the people who are who I'm writing. Complicit in the empowerment of those disempowered. Lifting those who can benefit from whatever boost I can provide, and that includes encouraging them to write their own stories.
What it doesn’t mean is writing only teachers if I'm a teacher, women if I'm female, or straight if that’s what I am.
LGBTQIA: Writing About Love is Human
If we focus only on ‘write what you know’ and if mostly white men have the power of producing creative content – as they mostly do – we will get a lot of stories about white, straight men, as we already endlessly have.
Speak for Yourself…Speak. For. Yourself.
How My Fascination With Storytelling Began
It Gets Madder and Madder and Hotter and Hotter
So when people tell straight women that they can't write stories about gay men, that it is a fetish to do so, that they can’t focus on crafting tales of longing and hope, mystery and adventure with lovers who are male, that they must only write what they know…they are asking for stories without other voices.
We don’t have to choose either/or, it's not a binary. Take the analogy of more cake – as a publisher I need Own Voices, I want writers who are gay, bi, trans, disabled, I want stories of adventure and romance, mystery and fantasy, from writers identifying as minorities of all kinds. Yet I also want stories by people who are not those things but are complicit, again, in the empowerment of people who are.
Write what you know means bring your humanity to the humans (or aliens, or werewolves, or whatever) you write, craft for them grand tales, build up, build hope.
Write your desire.
It’s what humans do.
(Possibly werewolves too.)