Challenge yourself

“That’s cheating!” Chris said about a short piece I wrote to a prompt. “You’re writing about something you already know.”

The funny thing about having someone who completely believes in you unconditionally is that you are unaffected by criticism. I am able to hear the actual words instead of piling into a “oh no, I am not a good writer!” So this time, I heard it. And all week, I thought about it.

Like many budding writers (and perhaps due to the writer’s block that I believe started when I was 7), I have trouble writing fiction. The creativity, the settings, the made-up characters rarely flow out of my fingers. I write about memories. It’s no secret that new writers can only write from what they know and as they get better, the worlds mold together easily like floating puzzles putting themselves together and together.

But that other day, the prompt, I read it aloud. A deep thinking about my own childhood experiences contrasting with more recent ones. After so many years of blogging, I am so good at creating a beginning, an arc, and an end. It bothers me that my own writing can barely last more than 1000 words and then suddenly the ending demands to be entered. Because that’s what my writing is like—it describes, it climaxes, and then it rests almost out of exhaustion.

But here is where my challenge was. I write from experiences, contrasting with the past, present and future. I write what I know. And yet. To this day, I rarely have heard any memoir-like pieces come out of Chris. It’s always dragons, crazy insane characters, and explosions. It’s Michael Bay spilling out of fingers and through the ink. It’s loud, obnoxious characters. And then some.

I want to write about technology and my mind tingles at the thought. A short story about privacy in technology. My stomach gets excited, but it lurches at the fact that these characters are not real. And the skill that I have honed over the years—to meditate on a memory—is not real. But here, isn’t that exciting itself?

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