"Write What You Know" v. Writing to Know


Write what you know, is a writing aphorism that is hard to escape, but what does it really mean? It’s always made me uncomfortable because far too often it is taken literally, but if you don’t take it literally then it becomes a bit of a puzzler. Once you move away from technical manuals and autobiography, what we know doesn’t amount to much. I mean how does this advice help the novelist writing a space opera, a short story writer writing surreal animal stories, a poet?

Writing what you know isn’t about limiting yourself to a narrow area of expertise or a specific collection of experiences. Maybe it would be better so say “Write what you know in your heart,” or maybe simply, “know your heart.” Be present in the moment; build rich memories, live a vivid imaginative life as well. It’s your memories, your imagination, what you feel and what you believe that are your cache of “what you know,” and they provide infinite possibilities for discovering truth in the world.

I highly recommend this one
“The key is to move steadily from what you know, be it ever so little.”
– Stephen Koch

The truth of the story isn’t always apparent right away. Writing is an act of discovery. Begin by creating a world – a small one in a kitchen or suburban home, or a vast one spanning galaxies; populate it with some characters, and set them in motion around a small collection of things you know. Be brave and honest and go where the story takes you. Who knows what you’ll discover.

“I write to find out what I didn’t know I knew.”
– Robert Frost

My story, “Fairview 619,” is available to read over at the Metaphysical Circus Press. If you like that, consider picking up the entire issue, See the Elephant Magazine, issue two: Love & War in the Slipstream.

See The Elephant Cover Reveal

My story, Fairview 619, is going to be in the fabulous See The Elephant magazine later this month. Check out this fantastic cover and peruse the table of contents here

Also, I’m delighted to announce that I have a brand new story, Hands of Burnished Bronze, that will be available for your listening pleasure later this year from PodCastle! This is one of the podcasts that I listen to regularly. I have heard so many wonderful stories here that I’m really over the moon about having one of my own join the ranks.

Just time for a quick update today. I’m mulling, outlining, and making some big changes to the novel. While doing that, I’m also revising a couple broken short stories that have been laying about too long. Time to get those puppies out the door. My submissions queue has gotten dangerously low. I’m getting lonely as I’m hardly receiving even one rejection per week.

A New Genre Magazine: Deimos eZine

and a handsome cover too!
I am proud to have a story in this first issue of Deimos eZine. My story Fairview 619 may be familiar to you as it was previously at Revolution SF’s website. That little story has legs!

According to their website:

“Welcome to Deimos eZine. Deimos comes from the Greek Δεῖμος, one of the many words translated as dread. Deimos eZine embodies dread in the stories we believe in, the artwork we showcase, and in the lifestyle that many writers lead.”

I don’t know if I have a “dread” lifestyle (as cool as that may sound), but I’ve started to read through this issue and so far I like the company. I’m looking forward to getting to know these other writers through their work. The editors have plans to make Deimos available on Kindle and Nook as well as in print. 

For the writers among you, they are open to submissions and are also running a contest for longer pieces:

“We accept longer pieces for the contest, up to 7,500 words, and the contest winner receives a monetary award and publication in the September issue in a special Contest Winner section.”

Whether you’re interested in writing or reading, go check out this new kid on the genre block.

Fairview 619



My Story Fairview 619 is now up at Revolution SF, which is exciting as it’s a great site with lots of interesting things to read.  



With this story, I wanted to take a well-worn science fiction trope and see if I could make it new again. So of course I went to TV Tropes and looked up their brain in a jar page. There are also some elements of the ghost in the machine and smart house. Oh, TV Tropes I could wander your corridors forever…

For me, so much of writing is about discovering new meaning in the familiar things that surround us. Taking something old e.g. received knowledge, cliches, tropes and trying to make it new again, forever changes how I think about whatever it was that I started out with.

The Million Writers Award

Hey writers! if you had a story published (via editorial selection) in an online journal, magazine or ezine in 2011 you have until April 9th to nominate it for The Million Writers Award hosted by storySouth. 


According to Jason Sanford’s site:

The purpose of the 2012 storySouth Million Writers Award is to honor and promote the best fiction published in online literary journals and magazines during 2011. The reason for the Million Writers Award is that most of the major literary prizes for short fiction (such as the Best American Short Stories series and the O. Henry Awards) have traditionally ignored web-published fiction. This award aims to show that world-class fiction is being published online and to promote this fiction to the larger reading and literary community.


If you enjoyed my story Fairview 619, please consider nominating it. As a story first published in Aurora Wolf, an online magazine in 2011, it’s eligible. its URL is: http://aurorawolf.com/2011/06/fairview-619/

To make a nomination, go here


If you have an eligible story put the link in comments and I’ll read it, if I like it I’ll send in a nomination too!

The Rules Work!

A mere six months after committing to follow Heinlein’s Rules I have my first publication! You can read “Fairview 619” at it’s current home at Aurora Wolf. A second story has been accepted by Flagship, the science fiction/fantasy arm of Flying Island Press. I’ll post a link to that one when it’s available. I have two more stories in revision and two more in my head ready for drafting. The happy news meshes perfectly with my next blog post (look for it on Thursday), which will be titled “You Must Submit,” aka Heinlein’s rule number 4. Until then, I hope you enjoy my story. I would love to hear your comments either here or on Aurora Wolf’s site.