Jasmine sat next to her master’s knee and shared her wish to be a writer.
“If you want to be a writer” — her Master blinked — “You must write what you do not know.”
“What I do not know…” Jasmine was puzzled, “…but Master, I have read all the books; I have taken all the courses; I am taught by others to ‘write what I do know’ and now you’re telling me I should not?”
“Should not, yes,” her Master said, “writing what you know is familiar and ordinary and you will be tempted to write about only your life or experience in relation only to the self.”
“I should not write about me?”
“Never about you — write about what you need to know; write about what you must discover; write about something about which you must first find out in order to share the lesson with your reader so their learning is reflected in your reflexive journey.”
“I must write what I do not know,” Jasmine repeated.
“Finding out is essential in the writing; the warning is in the showing.” The Master closed his eyes and dismissed her with a finger arcing in the air.
As Jasmine crept from her meditating Master, she whispered, and repeated over and over to herself, “Write with a need; write with a purpose; write with a mandate greater than how you already think.”
“Yes,” her Master whispered to himself — and to the rest of the, listening, wilding world.
Great lesson, David — and quite different than what most of us already know as our mantra!
Right, Gordon! It’s much more revealing and liberating to write about something we don’t know. The easy way is just to write about the self from different angles with the same endings.