Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Writing what I know

I've just finished the first draft of my second short story (it took me 8 tries, but it's still a first draft). Just like my first story, it's about people who aren't Chinese New Zealanders. I'm wondering whether this is a bad thing.

The latest short story anthology I've been reading has stories by Asian Americans i.e. ethnic Chinese, Taiwanese, Indian, Filipino, Japanese or Korean (in this book, anyway). And just about every story in this collection is about Asian Americans.

I suppose that isn't surprising, since we are supposed to write from our own experiences of the world. But if that's the case, how come it's no easier for me to write about Chinese New Zealanders, than to write about white folks? Is this some kind of manifestation of a subconscious rejection of my own culture? Am I simply expressing a view that storylines are universal? Have I been too thoroughly influenced by the white culture I've grown up in? Am I over-analysing?

It's just something I find interesting, that's all.

7 comments:

Nigel Patel said...

As an Anglo American I have so far not tried to write in a different ethnic perspective for fear of recreating Franklin from the Peanuts comics.
Perhaps I could start with different national POV's first.

Violet said...

I reckon it'd be even harder to write from a different gender POV!

Make Tea Not War said...

Maybe it just means you are a multi faceted person and being Chinese is just one part of your identity? Also, if you are only onto to your second short story it might be a little bit early to conclude that you are never going to write about Chinese New Zealanders. You may yet write a best selling multi volume saga about a Chinese New Zealand dynasty (and when you do I'd like a first edition autographed please:).

Nigel Patel said...

Oh, men are easy to write for, just make us venal and not too smart.

Violet said...

mtnw: a Cantonese Jackie Collins? It's an interesting idea...

nigel: yeah, Margaret Atwood does it really well!

Angela said...

I think the whole writing thing is hard no matter what background a person has. I think it is easier o write from animal perspectives. They are pretty easy to determine what they are thinking. Plus if you are wrong they won't get mad at you

Violet said...

angela: ha ha! I don't know if it'd be easier, because you still have to make it interesting to read :-)