Posted by: Phil Anderson | December 9, 2013

I am an Expert

When someone asks what I write, I usually say fiction: novels and short stories. But an honest evaluation of my recent output shows that I spend a lot of time writing non-fiction (mostly here on my blog). It’s usually about how I write, how I think, and how my philosophy of creating relates to my life. This was a surprising realization, because I’ve never felt qualified to write non-fiction. I’m not expert enough in any subject to inform or educate others. Or so I thought.

I had the opportunity this week to visit my daughter’s Jr. High drama class and talk about being a playwright. I dug some artifacts out of the attic, including early drafts of my play, some promotional material, and my rejection letters from drama publishers. It was fun to relive old memories, and the students asked lots of questions and seemed to enjoy my talk.

A few weeks earlier I spoke to another daughter’s High School AP Literature class about allegories. We read my short story, “Forbidden”, and then talked about some of the symbolism I used in writing it. I got to discuss my ideas and where they come from, some of the writing projects I’m currently working on, and my goals for future writing. I had a good conversation with the class and they asked some really good questions. One question I was not prepared for was this: “What advice do you have for aspiring writers?” I repeated some encouragement that I had heard elsewhere and elaborated with a few thoughts of my own, but I didn’t feel that my response was really adequate, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

I guess I was not ready for that question because I’m not confident that I’m qualified to give advice. I’m still an aspiring writer myself. What do I know?

But based on a year’s worth of  blog entries and on these two recent speaking engagements I’ve realized that I am an expert in something: Me. No one is more versed in my experiences. No person understands my thoughts and ideas better than I do. It may seem self-centered, but I’m not bragging or trying to glorify myself; my struggles and failures outnumber my successes. I may or may not be interesting to read about, but I’m what I know best.

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