Write what you know

As I was reading The Fault In Our Stars by the incredible John Green, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by his vivid description of Amsterdam; it wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill, “What a beautiful city!” but a deep, intimate portrayal of a place known by a man who loves it. It makes sense – John, in his Vlogbrothers videos often mentions his adoration of the city and his frequent visits to it.

In fact, this observation linked to another; that the protagonist lives in Indianapolis, where John himself lives.

…maybe this isn’t news to you, reader, but it was a sudden realization to me:

When I was younger, I’d always been perplexed by why authors chose to set their novels where they themselves live or have lived. I found it kind of silly, like it was a self-insertion.

It isn’t. When your entire living, your raison d’etre, revolves around writing descriptions of people, places and thoughts, why would you write about a place you barely know? To write as beautifully as John Green, one must have intimate knowledge and should have thoroughly explored what is being written.

I would write about Lahore. It is my city. I know how it feels.

John Green, with his love of Amsterdam, a city that – paraphrased – is so free it often becomes akin to sinfulness, invoked beautiful imagery that is perfectly at home with the rest of his writing.

It may not seem like much to you – in retrospect, I feel a little embarassed for making a mountain out of a fairly obvious molehill – but it kind of blew my admittedly easily impressed mind.

Now, back to Texas and TFIOS.

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