Should You Write What You Know?

should you write what you know by aspasia s. bissas

It’s been repeated so many times it’s cliché: write what you know.

But is it true?

Do you agree with William T. Vollmann, who said that you should indeed write what you know, and that you should also have as many experiences as possible in order to expand your knowledge?

Or do you believe Kazuo Ishiguro, who said writing what you know results in writing “a dull autobiography,” and essentially leads authors to stunt their imaginations and potential?

should you write what you know, aspasia s. bissas
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Or maybe you side with Ursula K. Le Guin, who absolutely agreed that you should write what you know, as long as you have a flexible definition of “know” (she happened to know quite a lot about alien planets, dragons, and the distant future).

You might even think Nathan Englander has a good point when he says you should write what you know–emotionally. (This actually is excellent advice–writing about an emotion you’ve never felt might seem like a good idea, but the sentiments will be obviously hollow to readers who have experienced it.)

Should you write what you know, aspasia s. bissas
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For me, I think American author Meg Wolitzer sums it up best: write what obsesses you.

And I’ll also add: because writing should be about passion. When I wrote my first novel, what I knew was English Literature, so I wrote literary fiction. And there was nothing wrong with what I produced (I might even still publish it one day), except that the dark, macabre, supernatural things that warmed my geeky heart kept creeping into my early work. Now, it’s perfectly fine for a little para to mix with the normal, but when I realized those were the parts I enjoyed writing (and reading) most, I decided to focus on what obsessed me, starting with vampires, my lifelong fascination. I think my work is better now, and I certainly enjoy it more.

Should you write what you know, aspasia s. bissas
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Whether you decide to write about what you know or not, you should always start from a place of passion, obsession, or love. Because if you’re not excited about what you’re writing, why bother?

If you want to see more about what authors have to say on this subject, check out this article on Literary Hub.

If you want to check out some of the dark and macabre things I’ve written (including two FREE stories) click here.

 

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Book Tag: Ice Cream Tag

ice cream book tag, aspasia s. bissas
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My posts for the last while have been all business, so today I thought I’d have some fun with the Ice Cream book tag (snagged from the lovely A.M. Molvik’s Ramblings). Read on to find out about some of my favourite books (or possibly end up with serious ice cream cravings)…

Peanut Butter

A very long book series that you want to read but probably won’t, and why.

discworld books, ice cream book tag, aspasia s. bissas
Just some of the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. Image found here.

The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. When there are so many books in a series that there are multiple charts to help readers navigate it, the chances of finishing are pretty slim. Still, I’m going to try…eventually.

Chocolate

A book series that you would read again and again and again.

harry potter books, aspasia s. bissas

I’ll have to say the Harry Potter series, since I’ve already re-read it multiple times.

Pistachio

A book with a green cover.

Edgar Allan Poe meets Aspasia S. Bissas

The greenest cover on my shelf (even if it isn’t pistachio green).

Strawberry

A book with the cutest romance.

gunmetal magic, ilona andrews, aspasia s. bissas

This is a tough one, as I don’t tend to read “cute” romances. I did enjoy Andrea and Raphael’s story in Gunmetal Magic (they also show up occasionally in a few of the other Kate Daniels books). As hyena shifters, they show interest in potential mates by pranking them, which was amusing, if not exactly cute. I also really like both characters and Raphael is cute in his own way.

Lemon

A book with a sour ending.

her fearful symmetry, audrey niffenegger, aspasia s. bissas

There are so many books like this. I even wrote a post about a series that had an ending so bad, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. But Her Fearful Symmetry stands out because this book would be one of my all-time favourites if it weren’t for the disappointing ending.

Mint

A children’s book that you like.

alice's adventures in wonderland, lewis carroll, arthur rackham, aspasia s. bissas

Going with a classic that’s beautifully written. Arthur Rackam’s illustrations are my favourite, as well.

Vanilla

Your favorite classic.

crime and punishment, dostoevsky, aspasia s. bissas

It’s been a while since I’ve read Crime and Punishment (time for a re-read) but it’s remained my favourite after all these years. There’s something deeply human about it that I think is lacking in the world right now.

Whipped Cream

A very long book that you read very fast.

six wives of henry viii, aspasia s. bissas

I love all of Alison Weir’s (nonfiction) books on the Tudors. If you’re interested in the period, Weir’s work is well researched and fascinating to read.

What do you think? What book “flavours” would you choose? Share in the comments (and let me know if you post this tag on your own blog).

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

7 Ways to Support Indie Authors

close up photo of book pages
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There’s nothing quite like reading. You start out staring at words on a page or screen, and– if all goes well –the next thing you know, you’re visualizing a vivid story in your head and empathizing with characters who suddenly feel like you’ve known them your whole life. A good story will give you the feels, stay with you long past the end of the book, and will make you want to go back and read it again.

We writers live to give readers this kind of experience. We write in the hopes of creating something worth reading, worth remembering. And make no mistake– it’s hard work. Lonely, demanding, often draining work, with more than its share of frustrations, setbacks, and disappointments. What is so effortless to read has taken someone months, years, maybe even decades to write and publish. While a few authors become household names, most toil on in obscurity, for the sheer love of writing.

person typing on typewriter
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As a reader, what can you do to help brighten a writer’s day and make the struggle worthwhile (not to mention keep the stories coming)? Here are 7 suggestions (6 of which don’t cost a penny):

1. Buy their books! Authors whose books sell can keep writing. If you like their work, help them keep producing it. (Handy reminder: find out where you can get Love Lies Bleeding here.)

7 ways to support indie authors, aspasiasbissas.com

2. If you prefer borrowing to buying, then borrow from a library or an official lending service like Scribd. It might be easier to borrow your friend’s copy, but the author doesn’t get anything that way. Libraries and lending services compensate authors and help them keep writing.

3. Ask your local bookstore or library to carry their books. Shelf space and budgets are limited, so stores and libraries often won’t offer a book unless they know people want it. (Handy Hint: give them the ISBN, as well as the title. Love Lies Bleeding’s ISBN is: 978-1775012528.)

assorted books on shelf
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4. Read their book! Seems obvious, but with everyone’s busy lives, it’s easy to set a book aside for later and then forget about it. Please don’t let this happen– an unread author is an unhappy author.

5. Review or rate their books on sites like Amazon or Goodreads (bookstore sites are also good). If you like what you’ve read– let the world know what you think. Just a line or two will do.

6. Share on social media (and tell your friends too). Help spread the word.

selective focus photography of woman using smartphone beside bookshelf
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7. Go to their events. Say hi, get a book signed, let them know they’re not sending their work out into a void. Writers might not be the most social people, but we love meeting our readers!

Do you have other ways to help support your favourite indie authors? Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

PS: Take a moment to download your FREE copies of my short stories Tooth & Claw and Blood Magic (or if you already have, click the links to leave a rating/review)!

                   free short story by aspasia s. bissas    Tooth & Claw, free short story by Aspasia S. Bissas

New Release: Tooth & Claw

Tooth & Claw, free short story by Aspasia S. Bissas

My new short story Tooth & Claw is now available FREE! And to celebrate, I’m offering Love Lies Bleeding for 50% off at Smashwords (offer ends tomorrow night). Stock up on your weekend reading with Tooth & Claw, Blood Magic, and Love Lies Bleeding for a grand total of only $1.50…

As of post time, Tooth & Claw is also available at Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, and Apple Books, and will be coming to more online retailers soon (including indie bookstores).

Thank you for supporting indie authors ❤

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas