Don’t ‘Write What You Know’ Write What You Feel

Every writer has heard the advice “write what you know.” I like to say, “Write what you feel” or “write what you’ve observed.” I’ve lived up and down the East Coast and the Pacific Northwest. I’ve travelled around the world and I’ve had forty-five years to soak a lot up. Yet, most people who meet me outside of the writing world ask me if I write about family life. Likely, because I’m just as much a story teller in real life as I am on the page. And, if you met me, you’d hear humorous stories about being a parent.

In a sense, I do write about family life. Most of my work is themed around relationships, not romantic ones, per se, like Tam Lin: A Modern, Queer Retelling. But, even Tom went to Ireland as an adoptee curious about his ancestry.

Although it’s not the center of my plots, within my writing, I feature caregiver-child relationships within fantastical worlds. Whether they are supernatural or futuristic space settings doesn’t matter, all humans have someone who raised them and some humans have raised children.

So, whatever you’re plotting, remember to include the big feels you’ve experienced in life in your character’s experience, making the problems your characters face relatable and real.

©T.J. Deschamps 2020

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Published by TJ Deschamps

Tammy loves to build worlds with words, exploring themes the effect of diaspora on the generations born elsewhere than their ancestors with the backdrop of tech or magic and dragons (sometimes both). These stories are inspired by her own family's immigrant experience. She's queer and many of her characters fall somewhere on the LGBTQIA spectrum (though that is not the focus of her work). She's married to an engineer who dances. Together they are raising three precocious teens in the Seattle suburbs. Two of her children are neurodiverse. Her experiences have taught her much about the world, its beauties and its injustices. All of this comes through in her fiction with a healthy dose of absurd humor.

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