Write What You Know. But What Do I Know?

Writing teachers everywhere say, “Write what you know.”
Forget if it’s good advice—What do I even know?

In this show, the Js (writer Jon Armstrong and editor Juliet Ulman) talk about some examples of novels where maybe… just maybe the author didn’t know what he was writing about. How do we know what we know? And do we know anything?

In the show, Jon expressed concern about Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son. (Amazon link)

A tweet from Paul Gilmartin was mentioned. (He is the host of The Mental Health Happy Hour):

Sara Zarr’s A Writer’s Life podcast was mentioned. Author Coe Booth offered advice to white authors writing characters of color.
A quote from Alain de Botton’s The Course of Love: (Amazon link)
“Look at you,” she says, “you big cross numpty, you.”

2 thoughts on “Write What You Know. But What Do I Know?

  1. Daniel Hoffmann

    This concerns Jon’s incredulity in an authors portrayal of North Korea. I recently watched The Martian. The movie began when the whole crew stormed out into a huge dust storm for no apparent reason. Never explained. Matt Damon was skewered in the gut with an antenna. He was left for dead on Mars. He lay outside through the Martian night with a hole in his spacesuit. Martian night temperatures are around minus 150 degrees Fahrenheit. He survived. Forget about the spear in his intestines. He discovered they had brought bushel baskets of potatoes to Mars. It would have cost $190,000 to bring each potato to Mars. Hum? Then the Chinese gratuitously offer to spend billions of dollars to send a rescue mission after him. God they love us! Our $6 billion mission failed. All for one guy…sure every day? It was like a story about Santa Clause and good fairies.


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