In the July 2014 issue of Outdoor Photography magazine, the editor, Steve Watkins, writes about the nerves photographers have to deal with when standing up in front of a group of people and talking about their work. “There’s no knowing the level of knowledge the crowd possesses,” he wrote, “but it’s easy to imagine a majority of them having substantially more insight than yourself about the subject you are covering!”
I’m sure many other writers feel like this too, not just when giving talks, but simply when writing about a specific topic, or subject matter. I know there are times when I feel out of my depth. However, the editor went on to share some pearls of wisdom from a friend, who told him …
“My friend’s sage words were: they may know more about the general subject than you, but nobody knows your own personal story and experiences as well as you do; in those you are the world’s expert.”
And I think as writers it would do us well to think of it from that perspective too. We may not be the world’s authority on the subject matter we’re writing about, but we are when it comes to expanding upon our perspective of the world. So if we’re writing about a weekend city break in Rome we may not be the world’s expert on Rome, but we are an expert on the experiences we faced on our Rome city break.
When I write about my walking experiences, I am the expert about what happened on MY walk, if not the expert on the area through which I walked.
This also translates to fiction too. I’ve said before: give ten writers the same story idea and you’ll end up with ten different stories, because there are ten different writers with ten different perspectives and experiences upon which to draw. They may not be the most authoritative experts on the subject matter the story is about, but they are of the experiences that helped them to shape their story.
So what am I saying? Have confidence in everything that YOU write. It’s YOUR idea. It’s YOUR writing. It’s YOUR perspective on things. It’s how YOU have interpreted and experienced things that’s enabled you to create YOUR masterpiece. And the world’s most authoritative expert on your interpretation of the world is YOU!