„People say to write about what you know. I’m here to tell you no one wants to read that, ‚cause you don’t know anything. So write about something you don’t know. And don’t be scared, ever.“
When it comes to writing advice, our gal Toni knows a thing or two. She’s written her 10th book at 81, and has both a Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize under her belt. She’s also taken her own advice: „I write to find out something. I write with questions in mind. ‚What would it feel like if…Or, What would happen if….“ „ She doesn’t write about what she knows, she writes what she wonders,“ notes a USA Today story about her.
While her plots aren’t hard to fashion, says Toni, „The characters are complex.“ They talk to her, like ghosts. „On a good day, they shut up and let me work.“
Her 10th novel, Home, Toni has pushed herself into unknown territory yet again. Set in the 1950s, the book is about an angry Korean War vet and is set mainly in Georgia, a place that’s not all that familiar to Toni — she’s never lived there.
Yet delving into the unknown, mixing reality and fiction — and stepping into the minds of characters who challenge her as often as they cooperate with her, has led Toni in strange, but satisfying directions. She’s written about slaves, about early America, and contemporary African-American life. And she’s done it all with boldness and brio.
I love what Toni says about that old saying„write what you know.“ Frankly, that never made much sense to me. If you write about what you know then you’re going over the same ground twice, which doesn’t seem very exciting. I always remember the advice a writer gave at a lecture I heard. When someone asked him what to write about, he said, „Write about what’s most dangerous.“ That inspired my blog title and it’s exactly what I’m trying to do. How about you? Write on!