Write what is closest

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The writing books advise us to write what we know. Bunk, mostly. What we know comes from what we learn, and I believe there’s no better way to learn something than to write about it, taking apart the particular pieces of making a hot latte, or the many gifted moments in creating Shrimp Franchez, butterflied and battered in parmesean, eggs, butter and love.

We should all write about something that creeps as close as the cup to our lips or the fork to our face. Writing about the lump of ice in your chest when you hear your son is on an IV, because he’s gone to the hospital. Write about the firey ivy that blooms all around your heart when your house is alight with laughter, dozens of people you know and love, enjoying each other in a party. Or about Soda Crackers, like Raymond Carver wrote in his poem of the same name. An alcoholic of many decades, when Carver finally sobered up and found his Happiness (the Tuesday entry), he wrote of soda crackers,

I never thought
I could go on like this
about soda crackers.
But I tell you
the clear sunshiny
days are here, at last.

Write what you know, I suppose, if you know it close. If you have learned something, or want to learn it, then it will be alive with your writing. The spirit you bring to the words will be like a watering can to thirsty flowers.

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