Portfolio of Hope

group of friends making toast

A question that I’ve been pondering over a lot recently, (cue a repeat of the title);

‘Is it morally wrong to write about something you’ve never experienced?’

An example, would it be ‘wrong’ for me, a white British woman, to write about the segregation that black men face? Should I not be leaving this for the people who are directly effected by it, in this case, black men, to write about?…

As is the case with everything, there are arguments on both sides. There are arguments both for and against writing about things that you have no personal experience in…

On the one hand, you could argue that yes, things that you have no personal experience in should be left for people who do have first hand experience to write about. This very much feeds into a ‘scarcity’ mindset though, promoting the belief that there is somehow a limited capacity for stories to be told, and that, if I write about something, you’re unable to also write about it…

Conversely though, looking at it from an abundance mindset, it can be argued that; the more people that write about something, whether they have direct, first-hand experience in the topic or not, the better (as long as the writing is accurate, and doesn’t further contribute to harmful stereotypes, of course). This is particularly true where marginalised groups are concerned…

Referring back to the example I used of me, a white British woman, writing about the segregation that black men face, doing so, coming at it from an abundance focused mindset, it doesn’t deny black people the opportunity to tell their own stories, it in fact, encourages it… It encourages discussions to be had surrounding previously overlooked, previously undiscussed, topics… It opens the door for the rest of us to tell our stories…

Now, as someone who could arguably be described as being in several ‘marginalised’ groups myself- I’m a queer, neurodivergent woman in eating disorder recovery, I would be grateful to read awareness raising articles around queer rights, neurodiversity, feminism, eating disorder recovery (all of the above), from anyone, (yes, even cishet men). Awareness is awareness, and, anything that encourages conversations and prompts change is welcome, at least, from my point of view it is, for, (again, this just being from my point of view), stories should not be ‘gatekept.’ 

Art and creativity should not be viewed from a scarcity mindset (which is exactly what thinking that someone else discussing something prevents me from doing so is an example of), but from an abundance mindset, whereby we are all given a ‘seat at the table’…

You see, just because someone else has written about something, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t space for you to also write about it. There is space for you, undoubtedly… Simply because you are a human being means that you are unique, and have something to contribute to the world… Who cares if that ‘something’ has been written about before, it hasn’t been written by YOU

The fact of the matter is that; writing is art, and art is all about creating- creativity is what art centres on. The ability to create something, a piece of work, that evokes emotion, that inspires, and that, hopefully, prompts change, this is arts very purpose. And, like any other art form/like any other creative pursuit, the beauty in writing is that you’re not limited to what you can write about. If we think about singers- I’ll use David Bowie as an example here because… legend… much of his songwriting centred around the themes of space. Take ‘Space Oddity’, for example.

‘This is Major Tom to Ground Control

I’m stepping through the door

And I’m floating in a most peculiar way

And the stars look very different today

For here am I sitting in a tin can

Far above the world.’

Now, I’m sorry to break it to you but, Bowie wasn’t an astronaut (I know right- shock horror- who would’ve thought it?!), yet he told the story of ‘Major Tom’, an astronaut, in this iconic track. Why? Because, that’s what creativity is all about- imagination. It allows us to conjure up in our minds a whole alternative universe and, through whatever medium we choose, whether that be songwriting, poetry, painting, whatever, share it with the world. Bowie didn’t get astronauts boycotting him for daring to have the audacity to write about space travel when he had no ‘first-hand experience’ in it, people just enjoyed the song, and the escapism that it provided them with…

In a world that can so often feel ridiculously hard and overwhelming and just, ‘a lot’, being able to seek refuge from the everyday struggle of life, through creativity, it offers a welcome release. It gives us all an opportunity to tap into our ‘inner child’/to use our imagination that, all too often, gets stifled. And, in doing that, you, whether knowingly or unknowingly, inspire other people to do the same, to tap back into their creative side, to unleash their imagination, to, in essence, ‘lighten the load of life.’

This is what I love about writing, or, art of any kind, really. There are no rules. You are free to create whatever you want to create, to write about whatever you want to write about. Have a burning desire to write from the perspective of a six-headed alien? Then do it. Going against the grain and being original, in art, will get you further than conforming and doing the same as everyone else (but, if you want to do the same as everyone else, then there is room for that too).

So, pull up a chair, you’re more than welcome at the table.

Your voice deserves to be heard, and I, for one, would really love to hear it

 ❤ ❤ 

L x

writing from inexperience quote

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