How much of a writer's work is personal? The answer, like humanity itself, is many shades of grey. The conventional wisdom is "write what you know." If what you know, however, has been done to death, then it may be time to gain some new experiences. On the other hand, what you know is seeded with more inspirational nuggets than one may think.
In our modern world, on Facebook, we have an average of 120 "friends." (Right iside Dunbar's Number.) Overall, in our social media universe, we have an average of 634 connections. The average man/woman sleeps with 6-7 partners. We have an average of 4.62 social interactions per day (I'm assuming that .62 were utter failures). The average couple has 2.5 children. (What is with fractions of people? Is there a story there? Never mind.) The point? There are a plethora of people in our lives who can inspire real behaviors and appearances of the characters we write. There are real people all around us threatening the President, murdering mothers and stealing their children, and ranting in court after slaughtering 77 people.
What got me thinking about this as I struggle to write stories that sell, is my contant analyzing of stories that have sold. Digging past pride and that knee jerk thought: "I can do that,"it's not difficult to see what sets successful stories apart from those that don't make it. It's not just characters, it's their interactions, the journey they make regardless of the environment they exist in. The best short stories are a snapshot just before, during, and after this arc in a characters life. The plot and setting are merely a vehicle for characters to get there from here.
In the meantime, read this blog's featured writing under the tab above for an essay I had submitted to Miseducation of the Writer, an anthology of essays about the black cultural boundaries in the publishing world.