The following quote comes from Daniel Quinn, cultural critic and former publisher of educational text.
I regret that I didn’t use more of what “I know” when I first started writing. I regret not realizing how important these succulent bits and pieces were. I regret not realizing sooner that just because what I knew and cared about or found amusing and worth reading matter even though my experiences weren’t being requested by publishers or agents.
For instance, I regret not using:
- My mother’s interesting stories about growing up in Jamaica.
- My father’s intriguing tales about growing up in Haiti.
- My grandmother’s hilarious stories about growing up in Cuba before her family moved to Jamaica, followed by New Jersey, and then finally settling in Florida.
Until now. I have moved on from regret. Now, that these stories have marinated in my mind, I draw upon them, and utilize their beauty — sometimes bitter, sometimes fragile and broken — in my poetry, short stories, picture books, novels, and song lyrics.
“Most beginning writers — and I was the same — are like chefs trying to cook great dishes that they’ve never tasted themselves. How can you make a great — or even an adequate — bouillabaisse if you’ve never had any? If you don’t really understand why people read mysteries — or romances or literary novels or thrillers or whatever — then there’s no way in the world you’re going to write one that anyone wants to publish. This is the meaning of the well-known expression “Write what you know.”