Over and over, I’ve been told, “Write what you know.” I’ve never agreed. If authors stuck to writing what they knew, no historicals would be in print because the author wasn’t alive to witness those events. Agatha Christie would never had written her mysteries because, as far as we know, she never killed anyone.
I wrote two historicals that took place in Regency England in 1812 and another that took place in Texas 120 years ago. Had to do a lot of research to do that.
Then I started writing the Tales from Butternut Creek series and realized I was writing exactly what I knew: a minister in a small town church. The Palm Sunday donkey running away with his rider? I was one of the group that grabbed the animal before he could toss the boy off. A minister’s fear of counseling a member of the congregation? Been there and survived and the woman I counseled did as well. The group of women who run the church? I’ve met them in every church either my husband or I have served and readers tell me they know a Miss Birdie. All the stories, all the embarrassing and funny situations we lived came together in these books and I’ve had such a great time writing them.
Sometimes the memories make me laugh. But members of a congregation suffer, too, and I cried with them. Those hard times made the books, too.
Of course, I didn’t live through or actually witness everything I wrote. We never lived in a huge Victorian parsonage but I’ve always wanted to—if I didn’t have to do the housework. And I expanded on some of the scenes. In Butternut Creek, the donkey took off down the highway with the kid hanging on his back. In reality, he ran only ten yards although I imagine the boy riding him thought it last far longer.
Have you had an experience you think should be in a book? I’d love for you to share.