“Write what you know” made me anxious

What I knew seemed ordinary, unimaginative.

I tried to dress up my writing with far-flung plotlines and edgy people to make the stories feel weighty, with the distinct disadvantage of making them ring false and showy.

When taking stock of my writing recently, I found most of my stories useful exercises that it’s time to let go, rather than submit for publication. The few pieces I was most proud of were quieter and close to me. Things I knew. Or things I cared enough to try to know. Not in the sense that they were retellings of my life, but more like sprouts that could only grow from my particular soil.