I am an 18 year old college student studying English with a focus on creative writing.
Junior Contributor I
Should There be Limitations on Writing Experiences We Do Not Know Ourselves?
Something valuable about a writer is their ability to tell complex, unique stories, some of which involve horrific plots, traumatic events, etc. Is there ever a point when writing an experience an author does not know becomes insensitive, doing that experience injustice? For example, take the book Little Bee. A white man wrote about a Black girl immigrating to England all on her own. The story was beautifully told, but was it his to tell? How does one define what makes it okay and what doesn’t? If he told the story accurately enough, in terms of the experience of being an immigrant, is it okay? Or does the fact that he is a white man automatically make the story less valuable, as it did not come from someone who knows the experience? On the other hand, many authors include smaller, less important plot points, such as a parents’ divorce, or a death in the family. If the author has never experienced those things, does the story feel less genuine? Does the emotion seem dull? Does it do that experience justice? Does a lack of experience make a story worse or insensitive? Consider where these limitations may lie, if any. Many authors do face backlash for writing about topics they have no experience with, but is that also not one of the most important parts of writing- to explore the unfamiliar?