“Write what you know,” goes the adage, but you don’t really know what you know until you write about it.
May Sarton: “I have written every poem, every novel, for the same purpose—to find out what I think, to know where I stand.”
Kathryn Schulz: “For me, the engine of writing is almost always ignorance. I write to figure out what I think.”
Adam Philips: “Anybody who writes knows you don’t simply write what you believe. You write to find out what you believe, or what you can afford to believe.”
James Baldwin (it’s his birthday today) went even further: “When you’re writing, you’re trying to find out something which you don’t know. The whole language of writing for me is finding out what you don’t want to know, what you don’t want to find out.”)
The more I think about it the more it knocks me out.
It’s one thing to write to find out what you don’t know, but to write to find out what you don’t want to know takes guts.
“You’re finding out what you got,” George Saunders says, “and it might not be what you want to have.”